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THE LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 




ENDOWED BY THE 

DIALECTIC AND PHILANTHROPIC 

SOCIETIES 



PZ8.1 
Da 



THE DAYS OF CHIVALRY 



LEGEND OF CROOUEMITAINE. 



LONDON : 

CASSELL, FETTER AND GALPIN, BELLE SAUVAGE WORKS 

LUDGATE HILL, E.C. 




MIIAIN'E AND OGHRIS. 



THE 



Days of Chivalry: 



LEGEND OF CROQUEMITAINE. 



FREELY TRANSLATED 



FROM THE FRENCH OF L'EPINE, 



" 






TOM HOOD. 



ILLUSTRATED WITH 177 DESIGNS ON WOOD 



BY 



GU STAVE DO RE. 



■ 
















m 



\ 



C A S S E L L, PETTER A N I ) G A L P I X 



LONDON, PARIS AND MAY YORK. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://archive.org/details/daysofchivalryorOOquat 



CONTENTS. 



BOOK THE FIRST. 



CHAPTER I. 



PAGE 



Charlemagne ..... i 

CHAPTER II. 
Which the Author congratulates himself on not having to Read .... 4 

CHAPTER III. 
Charlemagne's Cortege 7 



CHAPTER IV. 
How Ganelon, Count of Mayence, was nearly Smoked in the Company of Two Hogs, 

and what followed thereafter iS 

CHAPTER V. 
Angoulaffre of the Brazen Teeth, Governor of Jerusalem 28 



CHAPTER VI. 
Murad's Three Whims ..... 31 

CHAPTER VII. 
A Formidable Friend 43 

CHAPTER VIII. 
Wherein the Governor of Jerusalem eegins to show his Teeth 47 

CHAPTER IX. 
Wherein the Eagle stoops, the Raven croaks, the Wolf howls, and the Lion roars 52 

CHAPTER X. 
Angoulaffre the Merciful ! 56 

CHAPTER XI. 
How Angoulaffre had an attack of Toothache, which was the Death of him . 58 

CHAPTER XII. 
The last Will and Testament of Angoulaffre 65 

CHAPTER XIII. 
The Two Rogues released 68 

CHAPTER XIV. 
The Corslet of Cambric . 70 

CHAPTER XV. 
Montjoie ! Montjoie ! St. Denis .74 

CHAPTER XVI. 
A Funeral March . 80 



CONTEXTS. 



BOOK THE SECOND. 

CHAPTER I. 



How Croquemitaine was christened 

CHAPTER IE 
The King of Beauty 

CHAPTER III. 
How the Emperor Charlemagne saw a Vision .... 

CHAPTER IV. 
How King Marsillus saw a Vision 

CHAPTER V. 
The Two Alcaldes 

CHAPTER AT. 
Charlemagne in Spain 

CHAPTER VII. 
The Trap , 

CHAPTER VIII. 
How Roland undertook to carry Sakagossa ey Storm 

CHAPTER IX. 

A Trip to Mahomet's Paradise 

CHAPTER X. 
"Where Roland remembers his Latin, and the Devil forgets his 



I'AGI 

S3 



94 
ioo 
104 
1 12 

"5 
119 

124 

i-7 
144 



BOOK THE THIRD. 

CHAPTER I. 
The Four Foes of Croquemitaine 154 

CHAPTER II. 
The sign of the Crocodile 159 

CHAPTER III. 
How Allegrignac, Maragougnia, Porc-en-Truie, and Mont-Rognon opened the 

Campaign 165 

CHAPTER IV. 
Ali Pete's Little Harvest 174 

CHAPTER V. 

How Ali-Pepe, haying done all that could be expected of ax Honest Man. was 

hanged '. 182 

CHAPTER VI. 
Shoulder to Shoulder, Face to Face 1S5 

CHAPTER VII. 

IUitaine opens i he Campaign 191 

CHAPTER VIII. 
Through the Forests 195 

CHAPTER IX. 
A Night in the Fortress of Fear 208 

EPILOGUE. 

Roncesvalles 2:9 - 259 




PREFACE. 



J"N translating- M. L'Epine's charming legend, 1 have felt it my duty to 
adhere as closely as possible to the text. " Adaptations " and " versions,' 
whether presented on the stage or set down in black and white, seem 
to claim for those, who give them in English, a greater share of the glory 
than I feel myself to deserve, in the slightest degree, in this instance. 
The delicacy with which the moral is interwoven in the narrative, without 
in the least injuring the true legendary tone of the adventures related, is 
as far beyond any improvement I could make, as it is above the usual 
clap-trap "tag" with which dramas and children's stories are ordinarily 
burdened. 

I scared)- know to whom I should appeal as my readers, for the 

A 



x PREFACE. 

story I have delighted in rendering into English seems to me likely to 
afford pleasure in the perusal to older heads than those which I am sure 
would gather over the pages in the nursery. For there are a quiet humour 
and a delicate fancy running through the legend, amid all the exciting 
accounts of loves and wars, tourneys and battles, accidents and adven- 
tures, which do not lose interest because they are illustrated by the 
powerful pencil of Gustave Dorc. That great artist's fancy supplies these 
introductory lines with a tail-piece, which aptly typifies the book. Its 
author has ably made the doings of knights and paladins point a useful 
moral as well as adorn an interesting tale, just as the artist makes the 
arms of the chivalric age serve to frighten the birds from the fields that 
supply our humble daily bread. 







BOOK THE FIRST. 
THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 

A.D. 769. 




THE 



CHRONICLES OF CROQUEMITAINE. 

BOOK THE FIRST. 
THE TOURNEY AT FRO N SAC. 



CHAPTER I. 

CHARLEMAGNE. 

THE story which I am about to relate happened (if it ever did happen) 
in the time of the famous Emperor Charlemagne. There is no 
necessity, in speaking of that remarkable epoch, to invent facts. The truth 
is so astounding that it will make you open your eyes quite wide enough. 
What marvellous doings of fairies, ogres, or demons, can compare with the 
deeds of Charlemagne? and what magic ring could be as potent as his sword? 

But before I proceed further it will be as well to sketch for you, in 
a few lines, the portrait of this hero. 

He was eight feet in height, according to the measurement of his 
own feet, which historians allege with fervour were of remarkable length. 
His eyes were large and piercing. When he was enraged you could almost 
have fancied they flashed fire. His face was broad and ruddy, his hair 
brown, and he wore a beard that was innocent of the barber's shears. 
Although he measured eight feet round the middle, his figure was well- 



2 THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 

proportioned. He devoured with ease at one repast a quarter of mutton, 
or a goose, or a ham, or a peacock. He was moderate in the matter of 
wine, which he used to take with water. His strength was so enormous 
that it was mere child's play to him to straighten with his naked hands 
three horse-shoes at a time. He could lift at arm's length, on the palm 
of his hand, a knight in full armour ; and he could cleave in twain, with 
one blow of his sword, a horseman in panoply of war — aye, and his horse 
into the* bargain. This was mere sport to him, and often, with a charming 
complaisance which was peculiarly his own, he would take pleasure in thus 
giving those about him an ocular demonstration of his superhuman strength. 
His anger was as terrible as the thunder, for it was as ready to burst 
forth and to strike. 







He carves out a kingdom. 

With the compassion of a Titus, the sound judgment of a Solomon, 
the piety of a Joseph, the magnificence of a Sardanapalus, and the wisdom 
of an ALsop, he united two qualities more rare than all these put together : 
when he spoke he meant what he said, and when others spoke to him 
he took time for reflection, in order to make sure that he thoroughly under- 
stood their meaning. 

The dominion which his father bequeathed him did not suit the large- 
ness of his views, so he carved out for himself a kingdom which was more 
in harmony with his gigantic instincts. 

Born in 742, and raised to the throne in 768, he had in 770 already 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC, 3 

made conquest of Aquitaine and Lombardy. Four years after Germany 
was subjugated by him. He made fifty-three military expeditions, and he 
began the ninth century by having himself crowned Emperor of the West 
by Pope Leo the Third. He was a generous dispenser of crowns, and 
gave away principalities and duchies as freely as now-a-days we give away 
recorderships. He had two capitals in his dominions : the one was Rome, 
the other was Aix-la-Chapelle. He promulgated the code of laws known 
as Capitularies. He defended religion, spread the Gospel, encouraged the 
fine arts, and introduced into his cathedrals organs which he imported from 
Lombardy. Surrounded by mighty minds, whose efforts he stimulated, and 
whose labours he shared, he founded many schools and universities. He 
died in 814, after three-and-forty years of sovereign power — three-and-forty 
years of victories and wonders. 

Really, my dear readers, if you are not satisfied with Charlemagne for 
a hero, you must be very difficult to please ! 




^s6& 




The inheritance divided. 



CHAPTER II. 

WHICH THE AUTHOR CONGRATULATES HIMSELF OX NOT HAVING TO READ. 



I SHOULD be extremely sorry to weary you, my dear readers ; in fact, 
I should be wretched if you were to look on this volume as serious 
reading, and yet I am compelled to sum up in a few words the great 
events which agitated France at the time my story commences. How- 
ever, put a bold face on it, and bolt this chapter without taking breath, as 
you would swallow any peculiarly nauseous draught. 

After the death of Pepin the Short, in 76S, his two sons, Carloman 
and Charlemagne, divided his kingdom. Carloman, who was the elder, 
took Burgundy, Provence, Septimania, and the chief part of Neustria. His 
coronation took place on the 9th October, 768, at Laon. Charlemagne had 
part of Neustria, Bavaria, and Thuringia. He was crowned at Soissons 
on the same day as Carloman. Aquitaine was also shared between the 
brothers. You are probably aware that Pepin the Short was the founder 
of the second line of French kings. The first line, that of the Mero- 
vingians, was not, however, extinct when he came to the throne, for the 
Dukes of Aquitaine were of Merovingian descent. They sprang Irom 
Caribert, King of Toulouse, the son of Clotaire the Second. Eudes, who 
shares with Charles Martel the glory of having conquered the Saracens in 
the sanguinary battle of Poitiers, in 732, was also of this family. 

Hunald, the son of Eudes, had, at the time of Pepin's death, lived 
five-and-twenty years in the convent to which that monarch had consigned 
him. Now, the Merovingian Dukes of Aquitaine had a fierce hatred of 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 







Hunald quits the Monastery. 



the Carlovingian Kings of France, and accordingly, as soon as Hunald 
heard of the accession of Carloman and Charlemagne, he quitted the 
monastery, took up arms, and 
proclaimed the independence of 
Aquitaine. 

The two newly-crowned kings 
had reason to be alarmed at an 
outbreak like this, for, unless put 
down at the outset, it might arouse 
and encourage the pretensions of 
the descendants of Clovis with 
regard to Neustria. Charlemagne 
summoned a Parliament, to which 
he invited his brother. They 
both came to it, attended by their ecclesiastics and nobles, and war was 
decided upon. 

The two kings crossed the Loire together ; but Carloman, who, if one 

may judge from the chronicles 
of the period, was of an un- 
amiable disposition, had such 
quarrels with his brother about 
the partition of their inherit- 
ance, that it was even feared 
they would come to blows. 
They therefore determined to 
part company. Carloman re- 
turned to Laon, and Charle- 
magne prosecuted the enter- 
prise alone. He overran 
Aquitaine without meeting 
any resistance, as Charles 
Martel had done before him. 
Hunald, a fugitive, and hard 
pressed, found himself obliged 
to seek shelter with his nephew, Wolf, Duke of Gascony. Wolf! When 
was a name in a fairy tale bestowed with more propriety ? This Wolf 
was most deservedly called so, as you will see. As soon as Charle- 
magne discovered where his enemy had found an asylum, he dispatched 
some of his foremost knights to the Duke of Gasconv, commanding 




They almost come to blows. 



THE TOURNEY AT FRO N SAC. 



him to deliver up the fugitive, and threatening, if he refused, to enter 

his duchy and lay it waste. 

In those days, my dear readers, travelling was not quite so expeditious 

as it is now ; so Charlemagne, 
foreseeing he would have to wait 
some months, established his camp 
on the borders of the forest. In 
the next place, in order to put 
the time of his stay to profitable 
use, and to give employment to 
his troops, about five leagues from 
Bordeaux he had a strong fortress 
built, which was called Fronsac, or 
rather Fransiac, the castle of the 
Franks. The building of the castle 
was hardly completed when the 
ambassadors returned, accompanied 
by Wolf of Gascon}', who did not 
in the least scruple to deliver up 
to Charlemagne, as a proof of his 

fealty, Hunald and his family, who had claimed shelter of him. 

The insurrection having been thus deprived of its leader, Aquitaine 

submitted to Charlemagne. 




The Wolf of Gascony. 




- , ;-^% 




The tents of the needy warriors 



CHAPTER III. 



CHARLEMAGNE S CORTEGE. 



CHARLEMAGNE determined to celebrate the fortunate issue of his 
campaign. Jousts and tourneys were organised, and heralds were 
sent out far and wide ; and before long knights began to pour in from 
the various provinces : some to show their courage and exercise their 
strength and skill, others in the hope of enriching themselves with the spoils 
of their vanquished adversaries. 

The spot chosen for the tournament was an extent of velvet sward 
situated at the edge of a forest of oaks that were five hundred years old. 
A semi-circle of low hills formed a sort of amphitheatre, in the centre of 
which a vast area, reserved for the combatants, was surrounded with pali- 
sades. There were two entrances to the lists — one on the north, the 
other on the south — each wide enough to admit of the passage of six 
knights on horseback abreast. Two heralds and six pursuivants had charge 
of each of these entries. Small detachments were scattered about here and 
there to maintain order — no easy task, for the inhabitants of the surrounding 
country, with their wives, had assembled from all quarters alongside of the 
camp. On them it was difficult to impress a due- observance of discipline, 



8 THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 

and the unmanageable came in fur showers of blows that were not laid on 
less heavily because it was a conquered country. 

On a level space not far from the northern gate were raised twelve 
gorgeous pavilions, reserved for the twelve principal French champions who 
held the lists. Pennons with their colours, and those of their lady-loves, 
fluttering in the wind, waved in the sunlight like flying serpents. Each 
knight had his shield suspended before his tent, under the charge of s 
squire. 

Further off, less costly tents served as lodgings for numerous warriors, 
who were drawn together either by friendship or want of means. This 
community formed a quaint sort of town, which had, as it were, suburbs 
consisting of stable-sheds, and huts ot all sorts, occupied by armourers, 
farriers, surgeons, and artisans, whose presence on such occasions was in- 
dispensable. Merchants at these times were exempted from all tolls and 
taxes, and accordingly the Jews had come to sell Venetian trinkets and 
Oriental perfumes to the ladies ; the Bretons brought their honey for sale, 
and the Provencals displayed their clear olive oil ; and amid all these good 
things were to be seen, rambling about at random, jugglers, troubadours, 
minstrels, and all other classes of poor Bohemians, whose wits are sharp if 
their purses are scant. On the borders of the wood was erected a 
pavilion more magnificent than all the others — it was that of Charlemagne ; 
it was of cloth of gold, with purple stripes, powdered with gold eagles, and 
it was so bright that one would have needed the eye of an eagle to sup- 
port its lustre for an instant. All about it were knights, squires, lackeys, 
and pages, coming and going as thickly as bees in a hive around their 
queen. On either side of the royal tent, and all along the edge of the 
forest, were erected seats for the spectators of rank, who promised to be 
numerous. They flocked-in every hour in crowds, so delighted were they 
with spectacles of this description, and, above all, so desirous were they of 
beholding Charlemagne, whose name had already begun to resound through 
Europe. The royal box, more lofty than the others, and more richly 
decorated, was a little in front of the tent. Charlemagne had ordained 
that the Queen of Beauty should share this with him, in order that she 
might be surrounded by the most valiant knights and the most lovely 
ladies. The two retinues attended on her amid incessant peals of mirth 
and merriment. 

Finally, my dear readers, to finish the picture, figure to yourselves, 
situated half-way between the lists and the forest, and surmounted by a 
huge iron cross, a Gothic chapel, in which, each morning, Turpin, the good 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 9 

and gallant Bishop of Rheims. officiated as priest in the presence of the 
kneeling multitude. 

At length the day of the tournament arrived. There had been many 
jousts before, but never had there been one of equal magnificence. From 
the earliest dawn the places were all occupied. Even the old trees were 




as thickly loaded with curious spectators as a plum-tree in August ; and 
the good folks were right to crowd so. for had they lived their lives six 
times over, they would never have seen anything equal to the sight again, 
it was absolutely necessary for the soldiers to lay about with their pike- 
staves, in order to calm the ea^er ardour of the most enthusiastic; but 

c 



XO THE TOURNEY AT FROXSAC. 

nobody took any notice of thumps that, under any other circumstances, 
would have been received with an ill grace. 

All of a sudden a flourish of trumpets made the air resound. A 
glittering advanced-guard entered the enclosure and took up their position, 
and then Charlemagne entered the arena at the head of a numerous escort 
of knights and nobles, and of ecclesiastics in rich vestments. Enthusiasm 
knew no bounds. " Montjoie ! Montjoie ! " resounded on every side. 
Charlemagne, who later in life affected the greatest simplicity in dress, had 
assumed for this great occasion the most brilliant attire. His shirt was of 
fine linen, its border enriched with gold embroidery. His tunic was of silk, 
plated with gold, and was covered with precious stones of surpassing bright- 
ness—emeralds, rubies, and topaz. His armlets and girdle were chased with 
the most exquisite art, and his alms-pouch, which hung at his side, was 
besprinkled with pearls and gems enough to dazzle a blind man. His 
brow was bound with a g-littering- diadem. His whole figure shone with 
an unaccustomed splendour, and he greatly surpassed in magnificence the 
grandest of his dukes, counts, or barons. His steed, covered with gold and 
rich trappings, seemed proud of the burthen it carried. 

The Queen Himiltrude, a Frank by birth, advanced in the midst of 
her attendants. Her neck was tinged with a delicate rose, like that of a 
Roman matron in former ages. Her locks were bound about her temples 
with gold and purple bands; her robe was looped up with ruby clasps. Her 
coronet and her purple robes gave her an air of surpassing majesty. She 
was a worthy queen of Charlemagne. But if the queen surpassed all other 
women in nobleness of mien, Aude, the niece of Gerard of Vienne, and 
sister of Oliver the Brave, surpassed her as much by her beauty, her grace, 
and her attractiveness. She wore a light crown, embossed with jewels of 
all colours. Her hair was fair, falling naturally into becoming curls ; her 
eyes were blue as the sea of the south ; her complexion was pink, like the 
heart of a white rose ; and her hands were marvellously small. As she 
passed Roland, she turned slightly pale. If she had been less lovely, I 
should have said more about her rich attire ; but what is the use, since 
nobody notices it ? The queen must have been very strong-minded, to 
retain so charming a lady of honour about her person. ' On seeing the 
beautiful Aude, every one said, " There, or I'll die for it, is the Queen of 
Beauty ! " 

Aude had near her her sister Mita, fair as herself, but slightly browned 
by the Spanish sun under which she had been brought up. Two black 
eyes, full lips, a finely-cut and regular nose, hair hanging down in heavy 




At last came the peers and barons, clad in their most splendid armour. 



THE TOURNEY AT FROXSAC. 1 3 

masses, entwined with long strings of threaded pearls and diamonds — there 
you have her portrait in a few words. 

Her bodice w r as covered with small pearls ; you might have called it 
a pearl corslet. Indeed, those who saw her pass, admiring her martial 
bearing and her rich breastplate, gave her the nickname of " the little 
knight in pearl " 

After Aude and her sister came a bevy of beautiful young girls, but 
the people hardly cared to look at them. 

At last came the peers and barons, clad in their most splendid armour. 
What a clash of gold, iron, and steel ! How many swords that had won 
renown ! Every one of these puissant arms was worth ten ordinary knights 
in the tourney-ground — in battle worth a thousand ! 

It is difficult to explain the agility displayed by these men under such 
a formidable weight of armour. An ox in these days could scarcely carry 
one of them. The helmet alone weighed a hundred and twenty-five pounds. 
They handled like playthings swords which we can hardly lift. " At the 
battle of Hastings," says Robert Wace, " Taillefer threw his up, and caught 
it as if it had been a light stick." The horses were as powerful as the men. 
Reared in the rich pastures of the Rhine borders or Bavaria, high-standing 
and big-chested, they often took part in the contest, tearing with their splendid 
teeth the enemies of their- masters. As soon as they were broken they were 
clad in iron, to protect them against javelins, spears, and swords. 

Last of all appeared Roland, Count of Alans and Knight of Blaives, 
son of Duke A'lilo of Aig-lant, and of Bertha, the sister of Charlemagne. 
You would have taken him for a statue of iron and marble. His right 
hand brandished a spear that in these days would serve for the mast of 
a frigate ; his left reposed on his faithful sword Durandal. I know of no 
one to whom to compare him but the Archangel Michael. His air is at 
once terrible and tender : should one love him or fear him ? He is of such 
a majestic, awe-inspiring presence, that one can hardly be astonished at any 
wonders he performs. He appears to belong to a race that is more than 
human, and you would hardly be surprised were he to drag a star from 
its sphere or seize a comet by the beard. He is of the same height as 
Charlemagne, but more imposing in figure and gait. His open countenance 
invites confidence and inspires respect. When Roland gives a man his 
hand, the lucky fellow, who is thus honoured as with a royal favour, feels, 
in the pride of having achieved such a distinction, a greater confidence in 
his own worth. Roland is mounted on Veillantif, the only horse in the 
world worthy of such a rider. 

Close at hand is Oliver, Count of Genes, the brother of the beautiful 



14 THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 

Aucle. He is hardly second to Roland in strength, in agility, and in appearance. 
At his side gleams Haute-Claire, and he is mounted on Ferrant d'Espagne, 
a steed that darts straight towards the foe like an arrow. Then follow 
Duke Oger, Richard of Normandy, Thibault of Rheims, Guy of Burgundy, 
Ogier the Dane, Duke Naimes of Bavaria, Girard of Montdidier, Bernard, 
the uncle of Charlemagne ; Miton of Rennes, the friend of Roland ; William 
of Orange, with the short nose, whose name made evil-doers tremble (as 
you have trembled, little people, at the name of Bogey !) ; besides a thousand 
others, not forgetting Turpin, the good Archbishop of Rheims, so learned 
in the council-hall, so pious in the cathedral, so brave on the field of battle. 
Turpin was armed in warlike fashion ; his rosary and his mace hung side 
by side; in the handle of the latter was enclosed a precious relic, a bone of 
St. Oct. He could not wield a sword, for his religion forbade him to shed 
blood ; but it is a fact that his mace weighed a hundred and fifty pounds. 

Near Charlemagne was to be seen Wolf, Duke of Gascony — Wolf, who 
sold his guest and his family — Wolf, who was without a rival in treachery, 
except Ganelon. Oh, how you will hate the pair of them, my friends, if you 
read my story to the end! Wolf was chiefly noticeable for his armour, which 
was of browned steel, damasked with silver, and which he had purchased 
of the Saracens in Spain. He is more terrible in peace than in war, and his 
favourite weapon is the gallows. He was less feared by his enemies than 
by his subjects, and would sooner knock a man down with a blow of his fist 
than say, "Thank you." He was noted for his ingenuity in matters of 
torture, and has the credit of being the originator of the plan of tying wetted 
ropes round the temples of his prisoners to make their eyeballs start out of 
their sockets. It was he, too, who had them sewed up in freshly-stript bulls' 
hides, and exposed to the sun until the hides in shrinking broke their bones. 
But what is the most awful to tell is that no one had ever seen him in a rage. 
He was cruel in cold blood from inclination and appetite. The smell ot 
blood delighted him more than frankincense or verbena. Charlemagne 
hardly spoke to him, and it was with difficulty that he could prevent his 
dislike of him from appearing. 

Count Ganelon, of Mayence, was not quite so base a savage. At all 
events, his bravery was unquestionable ; he could be a useful councillor, and if 
the envy with which Roland inspired him had not driven him to evil deeds, 
he might have been one of the foremost of Charlemagne's followers. A lover 
of solitude, a taciturn and even savage man, an irreligious unbeliever in all 
noble sentiments — -such was Ganelon in moral disposition. Need I say he had 
no friends ? In height he was hardly six feet and a half, and he wished all 
those who were taller than he was, even by the breadth of a line, were of his 




SARGbNT.' 



Last of all appeared Roland, Count of Mans and Knight of Blaive 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



17 



height. His eyes glared from beneath the shadow of his fiery locks, like those 
of a savage hound. He loved gold only to hoard it, and affected great poverty. 
You would have thought him one of Attila's Huns rather than one of the 
paladins of Charlemagne's court. Ganelon could not forgive Roland for 

c-4ft 




William with the short nose. 

having rendered him a service on several occasions. The superiority of 
Charlemagne's nephew drove him mad. This may, perhaps, surprise some 
of the younger of my readers, but it is too true that to evil minds gratitude 
is displeasing and troublesome. But I had better make you acquainted with 
the particular grievances of the Count of Mayence. 




The good l>ijt<i|i Turpin. 




The wounded and the slain. 



CHAPTER IV. 

HOW GANELON, COUNT OF MAYENCE, WAS NEARLY SMOKED IN THE COMPANY OF 
TWO HOGS, AND WHAT FOLLOWED THEREAFTER. 

GANELON'S castle was situated on the loftiest peak of the Hartz 
Mountains, the Blocksberg. There, in the midst of the Hercynian 
forest, which cannot be less than twenty-four leagues in length by ten in 
breadth, towered the eyrie of this vulture. One road, and only one, 
traversed this vast extent of forest, but Ganelon took care that it should 
always be in good repair ; it was a courtesy which he felt was due from 
him to the travellers he despoiled. 

The count had gathered round him a collection of the best assorted 
ruffians of every country ; Saxons, Danes, Lombards, Jews, and Saracens, 
lent him a hand to forward the interests of the Evil One. One morning 
be called them all together, and said to them — - 

" I have pleasant news for you. We have the opportunity of playing 
a pretty trick on some Saxon traders. I have just been informed that a 
caravan, consisting of thirty mules, laden with treasure, and conveyed by a 
small escort, is about to cross the Hartz Mountains this morning, to attend 
the fair of St. Denis. I have conceived the design of protecting French 
commerce, and putting a stop to the opposition which is meditated against 
it. Under the protection of our patron saints, the two thieves, we will 
make ourselves masters of this venture." 

Ganelon and his rascals placed themselves in ambush along the border 
of the forest, and before long saw a thick cloud of dust rising along the 
road in the distance. 

" Here," cried they, " beyond a doubt, are those we are waiting for. 
Let us save them three-quarters of their journey ; " and they rushed for- 
ward, sword in hand. The two opposing storms of dust approached each 




Ganelon's Castle was situated on the loftiest peak of the Hartz Mountains. 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



21 



other, and from the further came the cry, ''Hi' what are you doing? 
You'll destroy the beasts ! " 

Ganelon and his men had charged into the midst of an army of porkers, 
driven by Westphalian swineherds. 

The surprise of the assailants was so great that it allowed the swine- 
nerds time to form in a body and draw their knives ; and those weapons 




The charge upon the swine. 

were not to be sneered at, readers mine, for they were those which butchers 
use for quartering and cutting up carcases. 

Ganelon remained for a moment undecided. That hesitation was fatal. 
The Jews and Saracens, to whom pork is a forbidden dish, did not think 
it worth while to press matters further. They accordingly retreated, taking 
with them several of their fellows, who thought their chief would retire 



22 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



into ambuscade again. But a Count of Mayence is not the man to despise 
bacon and sour-crout. So Ganelon, gazing over the ocean of lard which 
grunted at his feet, began to lick his lips, and think that here was a booty 
which was quite as well worth having as the other. But the swineherds 
knew with whom they had to deal, and, indeed, had come in such numbers 
solely because they expected an attack. They rushed on the count and 
his lances, and began to hamstring the horses. The horsemen were soon 
rolling 1 in the dust anions the ho^s. Two of them, who showed an inch- 



<tS* 



^€&< 




Ganelon's antics on the tight rope. 

nation to resist, were very properly run through on the spot, and mingled 
their lifeblood with that of two pigs that had been run down by the horses. 
The others were disarmed, and allowed to escape. As for Ganelon, they 
tied his hands tightly behind his back. 

" Now then," said the head swineherd, " before they pluck up courage 
to come back in force, suppose we hang their leader ? " 

This idea appeared very agreeable to everybody except Ganelon, who 
uttered the most furious oaths. But they dragged him, armed as he was, under 
an oak, and then, having chosen a stout bough worthy of such fine fruit, they 



THE TOURNEY AT FROXSAC. 23 

adjusted the cord round his neck. Then they brought the two slaughtered 
pigs — the only victims of the Count of Mayence — and having fitted each with 
a strong hempen cravat, suspended them one at each end of the bough, 
reserving the post of honour for the knight. These preparations concluded, 
Ganelon was dragged, bound hand and foot, to the place of execution. He 
writhed about in the madness of his rage, foaming- at the mouth, callincr on 
his companions in villany, and cursing them for their desertion. In vain 
did he struggle — a score of sturdy arms speedily hoisted him up between 
his two companions. 

" Pull down his visor," said the head swineherd to the man who was 
on the bough adjusting the noose, " the monster is hideous enough at the 
best of times — what will he look like presently ?" 

Ganelon continued to struggle at the end of the cord, to the great 
delight of the spectators, who, though they found him tenacious of life, did 
not complain on that account. 

Meanwhile, the count began to find that death was rather slow in coming. 
He had hanged too many not to know something about it, and in this instance 
it was so personally interesting to him that it could not fail to arrest his 
attention. " These knaves," said he to himself, " have made a sad bungle of 
the job. I ought to have been dead some time." And then it dawned on 
him that he was only suspended, not hanged. His executioners had put the 
noose round the gorget of his helmet. 

" Oho!" said Ganelon to himself, "this is quite another affair, and all is 
not yet lost, possibly. Only, it 1 continue my gambols, I may, perhaps, give 
the hint to these idiots, and they might hang me again more carefully. I'll 
sham dead, and it's odd if the Evil One doesn't send some one to my aid. 
It would be very inconsiderate of him to let me die like this !" 

Nevertheless, for one who wasn't dead, the count was uncommonly near 
death. The blood rushed to his head, and filled his eyes. He began to hear 
a dismal noise in his ears, like the tolling of a bell. His mouth grew dry, his 
lips were contracted, and presently his limbs gave one last convulsive struggle. 
Ganelon confessed to himself that all was over, and lost consciousness while 
faintly murmuring a final imprecation. The swineherds, encouraged by their 
success, and not wishing to leave the two hogs for the enemy, resolved to cook 
and eat them. They posted sentinels, collected their herds, and prepared to 
celebrate their victory with a feast. 

" It strikes me," said the chief swineherd, " if we were to omit an oppor- 
tunity of throwing a light on a point of interest to culinary science, we should 
regret it all our lives. A rare and remarkable opportunity offers itself to us 



24 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



now — we must not allow it to escape us. Are you not all equally anxious, with 
myself, to learn whether it takes longer to smoke a peer than a pig ?" 

The suggestion was a great success. They collected a heap of sticks and 
leaves under each of the three victims, and lighted it. And then, joining 
hands, they began to dance round, uttering wild shouts 

Roland, it so chanced, was returning this way from Saxony, whither he 




Roland to the re 



had been sent by Charlemagne. He had, certes, in war laid many a man dead 
in his path, but he had never permitted a cruelty to be committed in his 
presence. His indignation was roused by these vile chantings, this demoniac 
dance, and all the hideous apparatus of torture. He was not long in deciding 
what course to pursue. He rode at the dancers, and dispersed them with the 
flat of his sword, not deigning to honour them by using against them the edge, 
which he reserved for foemen more worthy of him. 



THK TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



2 5 



Then he made to the hanging man, and in order to cut the rone, had 
to keep Veillantif for a few seconds trampling on the embers in the midst 
of the flames. The Count of Mayence tumbled heavily into the middle of 
the fire. Roland dismounted, with one hearty kick sent him rolling some 
fifty paces, and then ran to assist him. 

His first care was to relieve him of his helmet. When he recognised 
whose life he had saved, I must admit he made a grimace. The Count 




Ganelon's recovery. 

of Mans, the faultless mirror of chivalry, could feel no liking for such wretches, 
but he was not the less ready to aid them. 

Ganelon re-opened his eyes. His succession of tumbles had done more 
to recover him than all the eau-de-cologne in the world would have 
done. When he saw his preserver, he heartily wished it had not been 
Roland. 

" Are you hurt, count ? What can I do to assist you ?" 



26 



THIi TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 




^S- J 

Roland gives Ganelon a lift. 



" I don't want your pity, Knight of Blaives. Why have you rescued 
me ? I am not of a race or of a disposition likely to love those who place 
me under an obligation, and it would have been less bitter for me to die 
than to owe my life to you!" 

" I forgive these words, Sir Ganelon. 
You have just undergone such a shock, 
that you have evidently not quite re- 
covered your senses ! " 

At these words the Count of Mayence 
was seized with such a paroxysm of rage, 
that he found strength enough to try to 
avenge the insult. He flung himself on 
his preserver, and seized him by the 
throat. 

" You'll make yourself ill again," said Roland, coolly freeing himself 
from the other's grasp. " You forget that you are not quite well yet. 
Allow me to administer a curative process which you ought to undergo." 

With these words he caught his adver- 
sary by the scruff of the neck, dragged him 
beside his horse into the heart of the forest, 
tied his hands with the cord that had already 
served him as a halter, and bound him fast 
to a tree. 

Ganelon foamed at the mouth, and bit his 
lips till the blood came. The fur)' in his eyes 
would have been terrible to any but Roland. 

" Now, count, calm yourself. You see I 
am anxious to cure you in spite of yourself. 
Nothing conduces to meditation like solitude. 
Now that you are alone, you will have time 
for reflection ; and if you are a wise man, you 
will say to yourself, 'This Roland is a very 
good fellow not to break every bone in my 
body;' and, since you are a coward and a 
villain, you will possibly say, ' This Roland 
was a fool not to kill me outright.' You will finish by perceiving that such a 
man as I can only despise one like you. Meditate, and if Heaven is kind, 
it will counsel you prudence. Anyhow, do not make an uproar, for fear your 
enemies should disturb your reflections, which, in that case, very likely, might 




Ganelon fast bound. 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



2 7 



come to a termination at the end of a rope. I will call at your castle, and 
send some one to your assistance : as my royal uncle is awaiting me at 
Cologne, you must excuse my attending on you further. Don't forget, more- 
over, that I am, and always shall be, ready to honour you with a thrust of 
my lance or blow of my sword, in spite of the disgust I should feel at 
having to cross swords with a highway robber ! " 

Ganelon's thoughts were so frightful that the human language is unable 
to express them. He hung down his head, and when he found himself 
alone he wept. His tears fell upon the grass; an 
innocent caterpillar, wandering in search of food, 
mistook them for dewdrops, tasted them, and died 
of the poison. 

Two hours after, the swineherds had disap- 
peared, and Ganelon re-entered his castle. Eight 
hours after, all whom Ganelon believed to be 
acquainted with his mishap were dead. 

Six months after, he was at the court of Charlemagne, seated at the 
same table as Roland. Pork was placed on the table, but the Count of 
Mayence refused it. 

" You bear malice, count," said Roland ; " that is wrong. Who knows ? 
perhaps you are refusing an old brother in misfortune." 

Ganelon turned livid, but he did not stir. After the feast was over 
Roland came to him. 

s ' Have you forgotten," he asked, " the threats you uttered and the offer 
I made to you in your domain on the Hartz ? " 

" I never forget," said the Count of Mayence. 

Here, then, was the prime cause of Ganelon's hatred of Roland. 




The innocent victim. 




Roland and Ganelon. 



CHAPTER V. 

ANGOULAFFRE OF THE BRAZEX TEETH, GOVERNOR OF JERUSALEM. 




The Knieht uf the Brazen Teeth. 



chance 
hounds 



IS YOUl'S. 



You will be able 



WHILE I have been wander- 
ing with you, my friends, on 
the Blocksberg, Charlemagne, fol- 
lowed 1))' his brilliant retinue, has 
been making a tour of the list upon 
his prancing charger. He had just 
regained the royal tent when a shout 
was heard from the crowd. All eyes 
were turned towards the Southern 
i^ate, whence proceed strains of wild 
music and strange cries. Charle- 
magne halted, and sent to inquire 
who ventured to disturb the cere- 
mony. A squire rode off at full 
galop, and promptly returned to 
make the following report : — 

" Sire, certain miscreant Sara- 
cens from Spain have come to chal- 
lenge your peers in the name of 
King Marsillus, who holds his court 
at Saragossa. Their appearance is 
frightful. They come in proces- 
sion, preceded by a band of un- 
earthly music truly worth}' of pagans, 
and demand admittance to your 
presence." 

"Let them enter," said Charle- 
magne, motioning to the heralds who 
guarded the crate. " See," he added, 
turning to his barons, "what a lucky 
to try your hands on the Spanish 



in anticipation of the time when we shall pay them a visit at Sara- 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 2g 

gossa — ay, and even at Granada, for we must compel then to be baptised 
for the glory of God and the safety of their souls." 

" Have they lost all shame that they dare look a Christian in the 
face ? " said Miton of Rennes. " Why, the earth has barely yet had time 
to drink up all the blood that was shed on the plains of Poitiers." 

" No doubt they are bent upon a pilgrimage thither," remarked Turpin, 
" to pray for the repose of their sires — that is, if such miscreants have 
fathers, and do not spring fully grown and ready armed from the jaws of hell !" 

" How could they blush?" said Aude, pointing to the first of the Sara- 
cens who had passed the barriers ; " their complexion is of the colour of 
our horses' harness." 

" Oh, the hideous brutes!" said Himiltrude, shutting her eyes. "It is 
impossible they can be men." 

" Let none forget that these are our guests," said Charlemagne. " We 
must be courteous even to Pagans." 

Curiosity was at its height. Every one rose to catch a glimpse of the 
emissaries of Marsillus ; even the knights of Charlemagne's escort raised 
themselves in their stirrups to obtain a view ot the strangers. 

There entered first sixty horsemen, blacker than Satan. Their flattened 
noses, their huge ears decorated with large ear-rings, their thick lips, were 
for the spectators so many objects of ridicule. Their bare arms were loaded 
with bracelets from wrist to shoulder ; their heads were protected by light 
casques, around which were wound turbans of white silk. All were clad in 
the richest stuffs, and vied with one another in appearance. Some were loudly 
beating kettle-drums ; others were blowing with distended cheeks horns of 
extraordinary shape ; others, again, were ringing hand-bells or striking triangles 
of steel ; while from time to time there resounded the deep bellowing of ten 
bronze gongs, whose vibrations so vehemently shook the spectator as even 
to induce a desire to cough ! 

Immediately after these came a hundred knights, of noble aspect, clad 
in triple mail, so flexible and light that a girl of fifteen might wear it with ease, 
and yet so stout that it was proof against the thrust of a Saracen lance ; 
as for the thrust of a French lance, we will see about that by and by. Their 
faces were protected by Saragossan helmets, and the)' were armed with the 
heavy spear of Valence; while their swords, although light, could cut through 
or hack away steel armour, so dexterous were they in wielding them. 

Behind them marched twelve standard-bearers. Here the crescent and 
the horse-tail of the Moslem took the place of the red cross and the bannerets 
which led the Christians to combat. 



3° 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



Last of all, ten horse-lengths from this vanguard, appeared the envoys 
of Marsillus, King of Portugal, Castile, Arragon, Leon, and Valence. All 
who beheld them trembled, and ridicule gave place to alarm. 

First rode Angoulaffre of the Brazen Teeth. 

He was twelve cubits in height, and his face measured three feet across, 
his nose beingf nine inches lon^. His arms and le^s were six feet lone; his 

o o o o 

fingers were six inches and two lines. His inordinately large mouth was armed 
with sharp-pointed yellow tusks, and seemed less like human jaws than the 
portcullis of some rude stronghold. He was descended from Goliath, and 
assumed the title of Governor of Jerusalem. He had the strength of thirty 
men, and his mace was made of the trunk of an oak three hundred years old.* 
This monster was attired in the hides of strange wild beasts, slain by him- 
self on the peaks of Atlas, whither no other mortal had been able to penetrate. 
His horse was without a match in the world, for it was up to his enormous 
weieht. It crave a loud neiy;h on entering the list, and so alarmed all the 
other steeds that they reared, and in some instances unseated their riders — 
a disaster at which the Saracens burst into roars of laughter. 

Himiltrude, in her terror, crossed her- 
self, convinced that the new-comers would 
vanish in smoke before she could say 




A 



men 



But the Pairans continued to 



advance in good order. 

"Hell must surely have gaped to-day!" 
said Mita. 

'■I do not know," said Oliver, "whether 
these miscreants have issued thence this 
morning, but I'm sure they will sleep there 
to-night ! " 

Charlemagne knitted his brows. Aude 
trembled for Roland, whose thoughts she 
could read in his face. 

Hard by Angoulaffre of the Brazen 
Teeth rode Murad Henakyeh Meimou- 
movassi, son of Marsillus. He was styled 
"The Lord of the Lion." Why, I will relate to you. 

* Some of the learned have alleged that Angoulaffre travelled in Italy, and that one evening, 
while at Pisa, being a little the worse for his potations, he leant against the well-known tower, which, 
unable to bear his weight, lost from that moment its centre of gravity. This is an error, which I 
am glad to have an opportunity of rectifying. The Leaning Tower, begun in the year 1174, was not 
finished until the middle of the fourteenth century. 



Himiltrude horrified. 




The Nubians exploring. 



CHAPTER VI. 



ML' RAD S THREE WHIMS. 



MARSILLUS one day observed that his son's manner was more caress- 
ing than usual, so he took him on his knee and said — 

" What does my child want to-day ? Generally he does not embrace me 
at all, but since the morning he has clone so three times !" 

" Sire," said Murad, leaning his little head on his father's shoulder, " I 
should like to have your yataghan that hangs at your side !" 

" What ! Have you broken all your toys, or are you tired of play that 
you ask me for such a formidable weapon ?" 

" I am seven years old," said Murad, drawing himself up; " I am no 
longer a child, and can carry arms. The sight of blood has no terror for me 
— nay ! look" — and rapidly snatching the yataghan before the king had time 
to stop him, he gave himsell a gash in the arm. Then, without flinching, he 
looked at his father, and said, " You see you can trust me with it !" The king 
staunched the blood and bound up the gash with his scarf. Then, embracing 
his son, he gave him the coveted weapon 

The same evening Murad was seized with a second whim. 

He had never been allowed to go out alone — what could be more delightful 
than to take a stroll abroad at night ? He only knew the face of Nature by 
day, he wished to see her in her silent moments, in the hours of gloom and 
half-obscured moonlight. He had heard of the songs of night-birds, of the 



3 2 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 




roar of the hungry lion ; oi those insects which, glittering among the leaves, 
turn every bush into a casket of diamonds; of the mysterious odours which 

earth yields to the flowers 
wMm%&* only in the solemn hours 

of darkness ; but now he 
determined to see, to hear, 
and to learn all these for 
himself. 

He retired to rest as 
usual, placed his yataghan 
under his pillow, and waited 
till all was quiet in the 
palace. Then he rose softly, 
dressed himself, and walked 
to the door of his apart- 
ments. There he found his 
governor sleeping across 
the threshold. He paused 
to reflect. 

" If I try to open this 
door, I shall rouse my 
he grant my prayers ? Certainly not. 
No; he will only laugh at them. If I 
disturb his slumbers, therefore, it will be to place him in a position of 

great difficulty, which I should ex- 
ceedingly regret. It will be better, 
then, not to wake him ! " — and Murad 
quietly thrust the point of his sword 
down the sleeper's throat, and quitted 
the place. 

The first thing he had to do was 
to cross the gardens. It seemed as 
if he had never seen them before. 
The fountains falling back into their 
basins made a silvery tinkling, which 
formed a ravishing accompaniment to the song of the nightingales. The 
bats, which looked like great leather birds, wheeled in circles through the 
air upon noiseless wings. The trees, allowing the moonbeams to filter 
through their foliage, flung mosaics of light and shade upon the sward. 



guardian. It 
Will he yiek 



The bold Murad. 

I wake him, wil 
to my threats ? 




Murad's treatment of his tutor. 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



33 



Murad fancied he saw one of the marble lions move, and started back, 
but speedily seeing his mistake, was heartily ashamed of himself, although 
he knew there was no one near to laugh at his alarm. If a real lion had 
chanced to pass at that moment he would have had to pay for the fright 
which the statue had cost Murad. As soon as he had recovered the 
first feeling of surprise at the novelty, of the scene, Murad, who was not 
exactly of a poetic temperament, hurried on. What he wanted to see was 
not the garden — fine enough in its way, but only a prison, beyond the 
walls of which he had never wandered at liberty — where every step he set 
was on a well-kept lawn. He wanted freedom of space and chance adven- 
ture. He sprang over the wall and fell into the midst of a detachment of 
Nubians going their rounds. 
These gallant fellows at 
once took to flight. They 
were only ten in number, 
and a cloud obscured the 
moon for a moment ; but 
when they found they had 
only a child to deal with 
they retraced their steps. 

You will have observed 
that Murad did nothing 
hastily. His was a deliber- 
ative mind. When he saw 
the guards coming he said 

to himself, " These people have run away once, so they may do it again. 
Ought I to wait for them to come ? No ! My best plan is to rush upon 
them." 

He did so. They met. The first who encountered him had reason 
to regret it, but his regret did not last long. In two minutes he was 
dead. Murad flung some silver to the others and plunged into the thicket. 

The Nubians left their dead comrade on the ground, but they picked 
up the money. It is, however, a matter of time to find coins in long grass, 
even by the bright light of an Eastern moon, so that Murad could escape 
at leisure, and at last reached a sombre and dense wood. When, however, 
the Nubians had divided the spoil, their captain called them together, and 
said — 

" You are a pack of cowards and fools. This was but a lad we had 
to do with — some precious young rascal, who has just been making a hole 




Murad kills a Nubian. 



34 



THE TOURNEY AT FROXSAC. 



in the royal treasury. Why, he's a mine of wealth, that boy — a stream of 
riches, which glided away between our legs after besprinkling us with a few 
silver drops. We must track it to the fountain head. He escaped in this 
direction. Our own interests, as well as our duties, point out plainly enough 
the course we should take." 

The nine guards set forward, marching carefully, and trying the bushes 
with their spears. 

Murad heard them approaching, but remained quite still in his hiding- 
place. 




At last they had to cross an open glade flooded with moonlight. 
They held a brief consultation as to the direction in which they should 
prosecute the search. The leader, picking out the darkest nook at the edge 
of the wood, pointed it out to his men. The unthinking and inexperienced 
always pitch on the darkest spot for a hiding-place, overlooking the fact that 
it is sure to be the first to be searched. At the moment when the officer 
was indicating to his men the direction they should take, Murad, who 
was crouching in the underwood, felt a warm breath upon his neck and 
ten sharp claws on his shoulders. 

If I said he was not frightened I should tell a falsehood, especially 
when, on turning his head, he saw two eyes — two glowing red stars — 
gazing on him in the gloom. But fear did not abide long in the breast of 



THE TOURNEY AT FROXSAC. 



35 



Murad. He saw, however, close by him another group of stars, an alarm- 
ing constellation ; in short, the young prince had hidden himself in a den 
with three young lions. 

Unseen danger could make him tremble, but when he knew what he 
had to deal with he recovered him- 
self, and began to reflect on what he 
had to do. 

" Here I am, between three lions 
and nine Nubians, armed to the teeth ; 
which should I dread most ? The 
latter, of course, for I frightened 
them, and I killed one of them. 
They have two things to avenge on 
me. If I kill one of the lions he will 
roar, and at his voice these birds of 
night will run away." 

Murad then seized by the throat 
the brute which was still tearing at 

his flesh, and drove the yataghan into his breast. But he miscalculated 
for the cub paid the penalty of his life without uttering a single growl. 




.Murad the lion-killer. 




Flight of the Nubians. 



Still the little army of invaders continued to advance, only instead ot 
coming on steadily they did so at the double. The child sprang to his 
feet, seized the second of the lions, and flung him straight in the teeth of 



\6 



THE TOURNEY AT ERONSAC. 



the advancing- band when it was but a few steps from the copse. This 
new style of projectile had a most telling effect. The Nubians retraversed 
in ten seconds the ground it had taken them five-and-twenty minutes to 
get over in the first instance. 

The field was Murad's. Of the three lion whelps one was dead, and 
a second one was struggling on the ground with a huge wound in the 




n-:5v#/ 



s ^ 



The lioness. 



flank. He did not emulate the taciturnity of his brother, for he filled the 
air with piercing yells. The third was squatting under some thick boughs, 
uttering a low growling. 

And now Murad was seized with a third whim. It was not a bad 
one for a beginner. 

He wished to carry off the third cub as a memento of his first expe- 
dition. He re-entered the bushes and searched about. Before long the 
two youngsters came face to face. The cub, warned by the fate ot his 



THE TOURNEY AT FROXSAC. 



37 



brothers, stood on the defensive, and, as soon as Murad came within reach, 
plunged his talons into his neck. Murad smiled. He would not have 
cared to bag his game without some trouble, so taking his captive by 
the throat he made him loose his hold. The lion gasped, choked, and 
at last, half-strangled, fell on his side, whereon the son of Marsillus took 
him by the scruff of the neck and carried him off. 

The wounded cub continued its meanings, which were soon answered 
by a fierce and formidable cry. The mother was coming to the rescue of 
her young ! Murad saw that flight was impossible. The lioness came to 
a halt on a neighbouring height, relieved in profile against the pale sky. 




The death of the lioness. 



She searched with anxious and terrified eyes the glade whence the cries 
proceeded. Perceiving the wounded cub she made but one bound to it, 
rolled it over and over, licking its wounds, trampling and tearing the 
ground with her claws. At intervals she raised her head, and gave utter- 
ance to a menacing roar. Her fierce caresses hastened the cub's death. 
When she saw he no longer stirred she devoted herself to searching; for 
some one on whom to avenge the great calamity which had overtaken her. 
Then she heard the complainings of the other cub which was being carried 
off, and she stood astonished at the audacity of the robber. You would 
have declared she knew Murad could not fly. Without hurrying herself 
at all, she advanced towards him in narrowing circles, of which he was 
the centre, lashing her sides with her tail, lowering her head, laying back 
her ears, and opening her terrific jaws. 



o 



8 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



Murad availed himself of die delay to drag off his clothes, and roll 
them round his left arm ; and then, scimitar in hand, awaited her attack, 
determined to make a stout defence, but feeling certain he had but few minutes 
to live. He continued to retreat, fixing his eyes on those of his terrible 
adversary, until he reached a rock, against which he placed his back. 

On arriving within a (cw paces of the lad, the lioness sprang upon him. 
Murad sank on one knee, and thrust nearly the whole of his left arm down 
the monster's throat. The pain he suffered was horrible, and drew from 
him so savage a shout that even the lioness was terrified. Then, not knowing 1 
what he was doing, mad with rage and pain, and guided less by presence 




The discomfited sentry. 



of mind than instinct, he drove his steel into the creature's belly, and ripped 
it entirely open. Then, bathed in blood, he sank beneath the corpse of his 
victim, and lost consciousness. 

And now, my young friends, we will no longer stop out of doors at this 
time of night, but re-enter the palace, and see what is going on there. 

Every hour the guards went the rounds of the building. One of the 
soldiers, in passing the door of Murad's chamber, slipped, and fell at full 
length on the pavement, to the great scandal of his commanding officer. 
Picking himself up, he beat a retreat to the guard-room, amid the jeers of 
his brothers-in-arms. 

The guard-room was dimly lit by a smoky lamp, which, however, gave 
enough light to enable the soldier, on approaching it. to perceive that his 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



39 




hands were covered with blood. Thinking that he was wounded, he felt 
himself all over, and found that his clothes were similarly discoloured. 

" This is odd," said he to his officer. " I am not wounded, and yet 
look at the state of my hands and my uniform ! " 

The officer seized a 
lantern, and hastened to re- 
traverse the rounds of the 
palace. On arriving at the 
door of Murad's apartment, 
he paused in alarm, for he 
perceived a slender stream 
of blood, which took its rise 
within the chamber. He 
rushed off in haste to inform 
the commandant in charge 
for the night. The com- 
mandant, terrified at the 
news, flew to inform the 
governor of the palace of 
the discovery. He, in turn, 
hurried off to the lord cham- 
berlain, who, dreading the responsibility of waking the sultan, went, at the 
top of his speed, to find the prime minister. The prime minister ran, out 
of breath, to break the alarming intelligence to his master. 

Marsillus dressed in a twinkling". 
Pale and trembling, with his eyes but 
half open, and his clothes huddled 
on anyhow, he hastened to the sul- 
tana. She, not expecting such a visit, 
and never having seen her lord in 
such trim before, gave a loud shriek, 
at which her fifty attendants rushed 
in in alarm. On hearing the news 
Marsillus had to impart, the lovely Hadrama and ten of her ladies-in- 
waiting fainted away. 

"By the beard of the Prophet!" said the sultan, impatiently, "this is 
no time for such monkey tricks ! We have not a moment to lose. That 
one of you that is last to recover her senses shall receive fifty strokes of 
the bastinado." 



He espies a slender stream of blood. 




Hastening to the sultana. 



4o 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



In an instant all were on their feet, and prepared to depart. The sultan, 
the sultana, the prime minister, the chamberlain, the commandant, the officer 
of the guard, the sentry, the fifty ladies-in-waiting, the fifty life guards, and 
the eunuchs, set forward, preceded by twenty black slaves bearing torches. 
The procession arrived at Murad's apartment ; the door was burst open ; his 
majesty perceived who was the victim, and breathed more freely. 

" Really," said the fair Hadrama, " this tutor has given us a most 
unnecessary alarm." 

"This is your stupidity, vizier!" said the king, frowning. "How dare 
you disturb us for a trifle like this?" 




The Sultana's shriek. 



" Sire, it was your lord chamberlain who roused me, and stated that 

the prince was murdered. If I had for a moment supposed " but at 

this the chamberlain, seeing himself in danger of losing the royal favour, 
threw the blame on the governor, who turned upon the commandant. The 
commandant passed on the charge to the officer of the guard ; and he, 
being a man of action, promptly ordered a hundred blows of the bamboo 
to be administered to the soldier who was the prime origin of the mishap. 

The procession, reassured, was about to resume its progress, when the 
queen suddenly uttered a piercing shriek. 

" What's the matter now ? " said Marsillus, giving a start, which was 
repeated by all around him. 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



41 



" Do you not see that the room is empty ? They have killed my child. 
There is no doubt about it : I was dreaming of a cat when you woke me ! 
My child is dead ! " 

" Then," said the chamberlain, " the tutor must have killed him." 

" You don't know what you're talking about," said Marsillus ; " and as 
for you, madam, you're a fool. Retire to your apartments. And do you 
take notice, governor of the palace, that if my son is not found by sunrise, 
you will be honoured by immediate impalement. Go ! — I rely upon your 
zeal and activity!" 

Marsillus retired to bed again, flung himself on his pillow, and slept till 
nine, which was a thing he never did before. On waking, he saw the 
governor of the palace seated motionless at the foot of his couch. 

"Oh, there you are! You bring good news?" 

"Sire, the young prince is found!" 

"There!" said the sultan to the fair Hadrama, who had just come in, 
" you see you were too ready to alarm yourself." 

The sultana only answered by wiping away a tear. 

"And pray where did you find Murad?" 

" In the olive-grove which borders the royal park." 

" Oh, ho ! so my young eaglet is trying his wings. 
What was he doingf?" 

" The prince was taking a nap, surrounded by a 
lioness and three young lions." 

" That is impossible, governor. I know you too well : 
you would never have gone to look for him there /" 

" My lord, the lioness was dead, and so were two o< 
the cubs. The third, failing to obtain any other -nutriment 
from its dam, was breakfasting off her." 

" And pray who had done all this slaughter ? " 

" I !" said Murad, who entered, pale and gory, followed 
by two slaves dragging the young lion along in chains. 

Marsillus rose, ran to his son, clasped him in his arms, and covered him 
with caresses. 

His son did not return them, for he had fainted, overcome with pain 
and loss of blood. I need hardly say he was tended as became the son of 
a king, and the slayer of lions. 

A few days after, the prime minister submitted a report to the sultan, 
proving in the clearest manner that the prince's tutor had committed suicide. 
Marsillus smiled. 




The Prime MinisLer's 
report. 



42 



THE TOURXEY AT FROXSAC. 



"Well done, vizier! I see how to reward you : you shall take the place 
ieft vacant by my son's tutor." 

Murad grew up. He and the young lion were never separated. They 
were seen together everywhere — even on the field of battle, and thus it 
was that in course of time they made their appearance in the lists at 
Fronsac. 

Now that you have, made the acquaintance of Murad Henakyeh 
Meimoumovassi, we will return to Charlemagne. 




Murad and liis pet. 



mmlmm 




a 1111 Mil 




The lion in silken fetters. 



CHAPTER VII. 



A FORMIDABLE FRIEND. 



WHEN the Saracens had entered the lists they formed in a semi- 
circle, and the two ambassadors rode forward. 

Murad was spokesman. 

" I come to thee Charles, King of the French, on the part of my father, 
Marsillus, King of Portugal, Valentia, Leon, and Castile. My name is 
Murad Henakyeh Meimoumovassi ; that of my companion in arms is 
Angoulaffre. He is governor of Jerusalem, and direct lineal descendant of 
Goliath. We come to challenge to combat a Foil trance your peers and 
barons, for whom, we here declare to you, we care no more than for the pip 
of a pomegranate. We will compel those who hear us to reverence the 
name of Allah and his prophet Mahomet. We offer combat singly against 
twenty, thirty, forty, on foot or on horseback, armed or unarmed, accepting 
in anticipation all the conditions which you or your knights may choose to 



44 THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 

make. If you decline the meeting, we here proclaim our intention of holding 
you up to the scorn and derision of all quarters of the globe, regarding as 
felons and cowards those who refuse to measure their strength with us. In 
support whereof, there lies my glove !" 

Murad flung his gauntlet into the midst of the lists, and Angfoulaffre did 
the same. A low murmur ran round the assembled multitude, but Charle- 
magne silenced it with a motion of his hand, and spoke as follows : — 

" I thank King Marsillus of Saragossa for the honour he has done us 
in sending his son among us. But his son is a young man, and his words 

O O if o 

are the words of youth. He appears to be ignorant of our history, our 
tastes, and our customs. Nothing delights us more than to do battle in a 
righteous cause, and it was not therefore necessary to accompany with threats 
an offer which would be well received on its own merits, and which, too, 
would have lost nothing by being conveyed in courteous terms. We accept 
your challenge, glad to fight for the love of Heaven and the Trinity, and 
to the confusion of Mahomet. None of us, it is true, is accompanied by 
wild beasts as a guard, but we have all hunted large game — the bear, or 
the huge-horned buffalo, so that we do not fear the cautious master or his 
attendant. Neither is any one of us descended from Goliath, or any other 
misbegotten child of the Evil One ; but we all know how to show ourselves 
worthy of the divinely-favoured David. What brave and good men, animated 
by the love of God and their country, can accomplish, we will do, relying on 
Him who disposes the victory." 

The escort of Charlemagne on this uttered loud shouts of approval, 
which were answered by the Saracens with cries in honour of Mahomet. 

Charlemagne appointed his uncle Bernard, and Maynes, Duke of Bavaria, 
marshals of the list, to arrange the conditions of battle. Murad selected 
Priamus, King of Persia, and Garlan the Bearded, alcalde of Valentia. 
While this was going on, Murad's lion, who was called Oghris, which is, in 
the Saracen tongue, " Throat of Brass," had ceased to roar ; and, marvellous 
to relate, his eyes, usually filled with fire, had become as gentle as those of 
a lamb. Everything about him grew mild. He gazed as if fascinated at 
Aude, who, ignorant of the charm her beauty had wrought, was talking 
with Roland. The lion approached her softly, never taking his eyes off her, 
and growing ever more submissive as he came near her. 

Every one was so pre-occupied that the monster had reached almost to 
the spot where Aude was standing before any one noticed him. But the 
horses shied as he came near, and began to tremble so violently, that the 
jingling of their accoutrements attracted the attention of Charlemagne and 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



45 



his suite. Their eyes fell on the lion, but he, lost in contemplation, continued 
to advance, more submissively than ever. The knights, perceiving his object, 
drew their swords and shouted at him, but he continued to advance without 
regarding' them. Murad. in astonishment, called to his lion ; three times 
did he utter the call which always brought the animal to his feet, but the lion 
continued to advance without paying any attention to his voice. Murad, pale 
with fury and disappointment, sprang on him, and struck him with the flat 
of his sword, but the lion continued to advance without turning his head. 
Aude, who was surprised ; — Aude, who only did not tremble because 
she had Roland and Oliver at her side ; — Aude, who took pity on the poor 
fascinated monster that came towards her, docile and trembling, had the 
courage to dismount and approach the lion. When he saw her near him 




The death of Murad. 

how great was his delight ! You would have vowed that in order to re- 
assure her and make her forget his power he made himself as small as 
possible. When she came up to him he lay down and licked her feet. 
Aude bent down and ran her fineers through his mane. The great brute 
licked her hand tremblingly. Then the fair one took her scarf and bound 
it round the neck of Oghris, who, rising gently on his feet for fear of 
alarming her, allowed her to lead him in a string. 

Great was the astonishment of the spectators ; but the most astounded 
of all was Murad. He did not pride himself particularly on gallantry and 
good manners, so, dismounting from his horse, he seized the lion by the 



46 THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 

mane, and, without taking the least notice of the slight bonds by which 
Aude the Fair held the lion, strove to drag- him with him. But the lion, 
furious, showing his teeth angrily, began to roar in such sort that a terrible 
confusion ensued. 

The horses reared, unseating knights even who were usually firmest in 
their saddles. The spectators, on hearing it, took to flight in every direc- 
tion, and for two leagues round the startled peasantry looked with astonish- 
ment at the clear sky, convinced that the sound was that of thunder. 

After a time the uproar subsided, and they beheld with horror Murad 
extended on the ground. They did not, however, so much recognise him 
as guess that he was represented by fragments of flesh and broken steel, 
and a few fluttering rags of cloth — all that remained of the son of 
Marsillus. 

The lion had squared accounts for his family. The son had avenged 
his mother. 




Angoulaffre slrangles an elephant 



CHAPTER VIII. 



WHEREIN THE GOVERNOR OF JERUSALEM BEGINS TO SHOW HIS TEETH. 

ANGOULAFFRE, who up to this had remained unmoved, now began 
l to choke with rage. He rushed at the lion, who had again laid 
himself at the feet of the mistress of his choice, and, catching it up by the 
ear, as one would serve a rabbit, began to twist its neck. On this Oliver 
stepped forward. 

"What ransom do you set on the lion? It is a pet that my sister 
has taken a fancy to, and I should like to present it to her. Will you 
take a ransom in gold or precious stones ? " 

" In the land I govern, on the shores of the Red Sea, I have a palace 
of turquoise, built upon pillars of crystal. It is so vast that the best 
walker cannot make the circuit of it between sunrise and sunset. There a 
hundred silver towers rise into the air ; on each is a choir of singers, or a 
band of musicians. In the centre is a gigantic dome of embossed gold, 



48 THE TOURNEY AT EROXSAC. 

surmounted by a diamond so huge and so bright, that even at night it can 
be seen thirty leagues oft" at sea. It is called " The Diamond Beacon of 
Safety," because it guides our sailors as surely as the north star." 

" I have," said Oliver, " a sword called Glorious. Galas, Munifican, 
and Ansias laboured at its forging two years each. You are aware that 
they made nine other swords — three each. Ansias made Baptism, Florence, 
and Graban for Strong-i'-th'-Arm ; Munifican made Durandal for Roland, and 
Sauvaeine and Courtain for Older the Dane ; and Galas made Flambergfe 
and Joyeuse for Charlemagne, and Hauteclair, the third, for Closamont. 
When the ten swords were made, the three brothers summoned a giant, 
and bade him smite with Glorious against the edges of the nine others. 
Glorious came out of the trial triumphant, and hacked each of the other 
blades about a foot from the pommel. Give me the lion, and Glorious is 
yours ! " 

Angoulaffre smiled, showing his double row of teeth, yellow as brass, 
and sharp as pikes. 

" What could I do with your arms ? Look at me, and tell me if I 
need them. See these nails ! — they pierce deeper into wrought steel than 
your weapon can into flesh. Behold these teeth ! what engine of war is 
so powerful ? With them I can with one gnash divide a knight in half at 
the waist. Look at these hands ! — they can snap off an oak as you would 
pick a violet. Regard these arms, and tremble ! With these, one day, 
while out hunting with the King of Persia, I strangled an elephant. Observe 
these feet, and dread to come near them! In Nubia a mad rhinoceros dared 
to attack me; he struck me in the calf; the horn broke off, and remained 
in the wound, while I trampled the huge beast to death under my feet. 
What use would your weapon be to me ?" 

" Nevertheless, I must have that lion ; and, since you will not accept 
any ransom for it, let it be the prize of our combat." 

" And do you suppose you can encounter me alone ? " asked Angoulaffre, 
grinning so horribly that the lion thought his last hour was come. 

" Does it want more than one to kill a dog?" 

The giant, furious, let go the lion, which hurried off, crouching behind 
Aude for shelter, like a chastised cur. 

" Well ! I am in good humour to-day," said Angoulaffre. " You see I 
am disposed to smile. Be thankful for it. I shall be happy to show you 
how the dogs of my country bite." 

During this discussion the spectators, whose curiosity overcame their 
fears, had resumed their places. The knights, by the aid of their squires, 



THE TOURNEY AT FROXSAC. 



49 



had remounted their horses, and the mangled remains of Murad had 
disappeared. Charlemagne, reaching the royal seats, gave the signal for the 
commencement of the tourney. 




Angoulaflfre's defiance. 



The trumpets again resounded, mingling their music with the discordant 
notes of the Saracen instruments. The heralds scoured the lists, arranging' 
all in their places. Then Angoulaffre approached Charlemagne. 



50 THE TOURNEY AT FROXSAC. 

" Are you, then, he whom they call the king ? What sort of people 
are these French, who are satisfied with such a sovereign ? Is it an 
emperor I see before me, dressed in silk like a woman ? You call us dogs, 
accursed Christians, and you dwell in burrows, as if you knew you shamed 
the sun, that deigns to touch you with a few unimportant beams. In my 
land the king is king not only by birth. If he were disguised amid a multitude, 
you would say, on beholding him, " This is the king ! " He clothes his limbs 
in steel, and would blush to be seen in soft attire when his faithful knights 
are going to do battle. Coward and effeminate ! You have allowed a hero, 
"the son of a king, to be slain before your eyes without attempting to rescue 
him. You have had more regard for yourself and your knights than for your 
guest ; and indeed you, all of you, have reason to rejoice at his fall. Mahomet 
has summoned him to his presence, ashamed to see that there were two of 
us to defend his name against such wretched adversaries. I alone am 
sufficient for such a task. Send, therefore, your peers and knights against 
me, either in a body or singly ; and if they dare undertake the adventure, 
believe me, you had better give each a farewell embrace before you part." 
Then pointing to Oliver, Angoulaffre continued — " This pigmy here has 
dared to challenge me. Give him a guard worthy, if possible, of my 
attention, and I consent to waste a few seconds upon him!" 

Charlemagne was not accustomed to hear such laneua^e. His blood 
boiled with rage, and, coursing wildly through his veins, made him at one 
moment red as fire and the next pale as death. It must be held a final 
proof that a man cannot expire of rage that Charlemagne continued to live. 
His nobles were not a whit less moved than he. As for Angoulaffre, he 
continued to smile savagely. 

"It is by sword-stroke and lance-thrust that such words are answered," 
said Charles, " and you will receive a hundred blows for every syllable you 
have dared utter." 

" Ill-said, paltry kingling ! " replied the giant. " Our warriors never 
need two blows at a foeman." 

" Enough of parley, sir," said Roland. " Do you not see how you are 
delaying us?" and then he added, aside, to Oliver, " My brother and dear 
friend, you admire, I know, my castle on the banks of the Seine. Take it, 
and let me fight him first." 

" No," said Oliver, " not for the crown would I resign this chance of 
earning my passport to heaven." 

" Take my horse, and give me up your place," said Ogier the Dane. 
" You know that Tachebrune is a horse without peer." 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



51 
Neither 



" You are mad to persist in asking me. You do me a wrong 
of you would do what you ask of me." 

And saying this, Oliver, having kissed the king's hand, assumed his 
arms, and ran to take his post at the extremity of the lists, opposite to 
Angoulaffre, who continued to grin horribly. 




Anjzoulafire's smile. 



CHAPTER IX. 

WHEREIN THE EAGLE STOOPS, THE RAVEN CROAKS, THE WOLF HOWLS, AND 

THE LION ROARS. 




> ys 



;; >f 



LARGE tears coursed down the cheeks of Charle- 
magne, as he gazed sadly on his nobles and 
knights, and asked himself if Heaven would permit 
such heroes to fall ingloriously by the hand of a 
miscreant. 

Oliver crossed himself, and rode at the giant. All 
trembled ; Oliver alone trembled not. 

It is hardly necessary to say that the usual con- 
ditions of this class of duel were, perforce, somewhat 
modified on this occasion, for they forbade any blows 
except at the body, and permitted only cuts, not thrusts. 
As Angoulaffre was six times the height of Oliver, it 
was impossible they could be strictly adhered to. 

The two combatants rushed at each other, and 
quickly disappeared in a cloud of dust. Then came 
the clash of steel, which sent a chill to all hearts. Was 
Could that be the noise of his fall ? No ! the dust 
cleared away, and Oliver was seen firmly seated in his saddle at the end 
of the lists, prepared for another course. His lance had broken the buckle 
ot Angoulaffre's sword-belt. The huge weapon, in falling, had made a 
great dent in the soil. 

Frantic cries of " Hurrah for the brave knight!" rent the air. 
"Charge!" 

Again they dashed forward, and disappeared in the storm of dust. 
This time, too, Oliver escaped unharmed ; but the giant, confused by the 
limited area of the lists, and miscalculating his distance, came down full tilt 
upon the public gallery. His terrible lance made a deadly passage through 
the crowd, and smashed the timber- work, which fell in upon the sitters. In 
the crash Angoulaffre's horse lost its breast-piece. 



Charlemagne's tears. 



Oliver unhorsed ? 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



JO 



Ganelon had never been so delighted. He hated Oliver, whose friendship 
for Roland was proverbial. " This evening," said he to himself, " these 
boasters will sleep between four planks." 

Wolf was as pleased and malicious as Ganelon. 

The Duke of Aquitaine, you must know, had been struck with Aude's 
beauty, and had demanded her hand ; but Gerard de Vienne had rejected 




The first course. 



the offer with scorn, and Oliver had said, with a laugh, " Go and ask Roland 
for it." 

Wolf and Ganelon were made to understand each other : they did not 
fail to joke together in a whisper while Oliver was doing battle. 

Now Charlemagne was never particularly pleased to see people jesting 
on such occasions, and he was not slow to perceive their smothered laughter, 
and grew very angry at it. This sarcastic sniggering enraged him. The 
words of Angoulaffre still grated in his ears, and he fancied that he was 
the subject of pleasantry for his vassals. Turning round, delighted at a 
chance of relieving his anger, he said to Ganelon and Wolf — 

" The wolf and the crow, Heaven help us ! dare to laugh at the eagle ! 
Has he sunk so low that he must submit to this ?" 

" Nay, His Majesty must not misunderstand us thus," said Wolf. " Our 
recent submission to his commands should place our loyalty beyond suspicion 
of that sort." 

" What, then, is the reason of this unwholesome pleasantry ? When the 
wolf is pleased, the shepherd should be on his guard." 



54 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



" An awkward blow of Oliver's made us laugh," said Ganelon, scowling 
at the combatants. 

" Oho ! so that gallant knight must serve you for a laughing-stock ? 
In truth, you would have done better to laugh at me. Am I no longer 
Charlemagne ? Did that . miscreant say true ? Because a giant dares look 
me in the face, these dwarfs must snap at my heels ! One of my bravest 
knights undertakes, out of regard for me, an enterprise, the very thought of 




Oliver unhorsed. 



which is enough to turn one's head ; he is in danger of his life, and people 
dare laugh at him under my very eyes ! You have done ill, let me tell you ; 
and, since the venture which Oliver undertakes is such good sport, you shall, 
both of you, take part in it at once. Now, raven! — now, wolf! to your 
prayers for this hero ; for I swear by Heaven you shall take his place in 
the field ! " 

Then, leaving Ganelon and Wolf dumb with confusion, Charlemagne 
resumed his place. Angoulaffre and Oliver, who only awaited the monarch's 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 55 

return, ran another course. This time Ferrant d' Espagne arrived alone at 
the end of the lists. The giant had adopted surer measures. 

He had couched so low in the saddle that his face had touched his 
horse's neck. Oliver, taking advantage of this, had thrust his lance into his 
left eye, 'whereon Angoulaffre had seized him in his mighty grasp, and had 
gripped him so hard, that his armour, bent and bruised, forced itself into his 
flesh. Then the o-iant was seen to rise in his saddle, and hurl the luckless 
knight to the ground, where he lay without stirring, his armour broken, and 
bathed in blood. 

Cries of horror resounded on all sides, but they were speedily drowned 
by the shouts and music of the Saracens. 

Charlemagne sat motionless, with his eyes fixed on the body of Oliver. 
His bravest knights pressed round him, imploring him to send them to fight 
the giant, but he did not hear them. 

They brought a litter ; the surgeons entered the lists, and soon the cry 
was raised, " Oliver still breathes ! " Then Charles roused himself, and, with 
tears in his eyes, exclaimed — 

" Blessed St. James ! I have ever had full faith in you. Save this gallant 
champion, and I promise you a chapel in the land of the Saracens. It shall 
be so lovely, it shall be the envy of all the calendar." 

Then, turning to Ganelon and Wolf, he said, " Now, as for you, Count 
of Mayence, and you, Duke of Aquitaine, if you do not accept the combat, 
I swear by Heaven that to-morrow you shall be degraded from the order 
of knighthood on the very spot where this brave knight has just fallen." 

" So be it," said Ganelon, " 'twill be strange if we do not let you see we 
are of as gallant and noble a lineage as your favourites ! " and, followed by 
Wolf, he descended into the lists. 




The two champions. 



CHAPTER X. 



ANGOULAFFRE THE MERCIFUL 



WHEN Angoulaffre saw these 
new adversaries approaching 
he frowned. 

" Aha ! for what do you take 
me, and why do you send these brats 
against me ? By my faith, King- 
ling, I do not thank "you. If this be 
a sample of your court it is but a 
poor one, and it is no wonder you 
are foremost in it. But, in truth, I 
believe you are but sending me the 
refuse ot your knighthood, which you 
are not sorry to be rid of. You hope 
thus to tire me, and to rid yourself of 
these small fry of warriors. I shall 
not satisfy your wishes. I should 
blush to deal seriously with these 
puny creatures. By the Prophet, my 
father would be astonished to see the 
task I have had set me ! " 

Shrugging his shoulders, Angou- 
laffre took his post at the end of 
the lists. He refused the lance which was brought him by thirty squires. 
" It would be a rare jest if I needed arms to fight these pigmies," 
said he, as he rode forward at an easy pace. Ganelon and Wolf charged 
upon him, lance in rest, but instead of aiming at the giant they aimed at 
his horse. 

"Cowards and bunglers!" shouted Angoulaffre. "Oh, Charlemagne, I 
shall not do you the pleasure of ridding you of such knights. I intend to 
spare them, and let them go in peace for your disgrace for ever after." 




Wolf and Ganelon are taken up. 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



57 



So saying, the giant stooped, and, seizing the two as he had done 
Oliver, he looked at them quite unconcernedly. 

" Faugh ! the wretched Christians ! it would be a murder to put them to 
death ; " and with these words he rode off towards the chapel, still holding 
Ganelon and Wolf in his grasp. 

You have, of course, my dear readers, not forgotten the chapel of 
which I spoke at the beginning of the story. It was surmounted by a 
huge iron cross. Angoulaffre went up to it, and without injuring his 
prisoners, he hung them by their belts, one on each limb of the cross, 
like a couple of rings on a ringstand. 

" Gallant defenders of the cross," said the colossus, as he rode back 
to his place in the lists ; " become its guardians also ! " 




The suspended champions. 




~cja$^-=^Tri 



Angoulaffre's fall. 



CHAPTER XL 

HOW ANCOULAFFRE HAD AN ATTACK OF TOOTHACHE, WHICH WAS THE DEATH 

OF HIM. 



ROLAND heard no further. The insolence of the giant had aroused 
in his heart one of those fits of fury which, when coupled with 
strength and courage like his, nothing can resist. The dishonour done to 
Ganelon and Wolf enraged him, for he no longer saw in them either rivals 
or unworthy opponents. They were knights — they were Christians, and he 
felt a share of the insult offered to them. 

He sprang on the back of Vcillantif, and dashed into the lists. A 
murmur of applause saluted his entrance. People felt that the real struggle 
was only now commencing, and that if Roland were vanquished there was 
no one to take his place. The honour of the French name was the stake 
of this contest. 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



59 



Three pages ran to pick up the gauntlet which Angoulaffre had fluno- 
down in defiance, and dragged it with difficulty into the middle of the lists. 
Roland stooped, picked it up, and flung it in the giant's face. 

On receiving this insult the Saracen lost his self-possession, and gave 
vent to an oath so terrible that all the assemblage crossed themselves. 
You will not, therefore, be surprised, my friends, that I do not repeat it, 
although it formed the entire speech of the Governor of Jerusalem. He 
felt himself in the presence of an enemy worthy of him, and understood 
that the time for words was gone by. As an habitual drinker likes wine 
that is rough, warriors delight in foemen who smite hard. 

This time the giant assumed his lance and his vast shield. The spec- 
tators had not a drop of blood left in 
their veins, and many prayers were 
breathed to Heaven for the success 
of the Christian knight. 

The signal was given. The 
combatants dashed forward and en- 
countered half way. Angoulaffre had 
stooped down to await Roland, but 
he, with superhuman activity, avoided 
the fearful blow which w r as aimed at 
him, and struck his adversary on the 
face with his lance. 

The spear lodged between two 
of his teeth and broke. 

The greatest courage is often 
accompanied by little weaknesses. 
The hero who sports with life on 
the battle-field will often shrink at 
the sight of a spider. Angoulaffre, 
now, had a horror of a dentist — as, 
my young readers, is the case, I 

conjecture, with most of you. A decayed grinder had given him con- 
siderable pain for the last six weeks. Imagine his rage, then, when he 
received a tremendous blow from a lance on that particular tooth. He 
ceased to be a man — to be a giant : he w r as a wild beast, mad with fury. 
He lost his presence of mind, which until now had lent him double 
strength. Flinging aside his arms he flung himself blindly upon his foe. 

But Roland, whom danger never stirred, evaded him craftily, and 




&M 



The Brazen Teeth in pain 



6o 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



harassed him. He seemed to be playing with his ibrmidable adversary. 
A deft stroke severed the girths of AngoulafhVs horse ; the saddle turned 
round ; the giant lost his balance, and fell to earth amid shouts of laughter 
from the spectators. Roland approached him, gave him his hand, and 
assisted him to rise. Then he asked him if he required rest. 

"I never leave a fight half finished," said the giant; "but I am 
thirsty, that is all." 

Charlemagne, hearing these words, ordered his pages to roll a hoo- S - 




Tlie last charge. 



head of Spanish wine into the middle ot the lists. Angoulaffre broached 
it with one blow of his fist, emptied it at one draught, and then, flinging 
the cask beyond the barriers, remounted his steed. 

The combatants selected fresh spears, and, having taken their places on 
the field, rode at each other once more. This time they smote one another 
full on the breast. What a terrific crash, my young friends ! No iron- 
clad of our day could have resisted it. Angoulaffre was driven back on 
his horse's crupper ; he stuck his knees in so tight, to save himself from a 
second fall, that the unhappy animal had all the breath knocked out of its 
bod)'. It was a misery to hear it cough. 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



6l 



Roland had bent beneath the stroke. His back had touched the 
crupper of Veillantif, but the brave knight did not lose his seat. The spear 
had glanced off his excellent armour from girdle to shoulder, and he 
escaped unhurt, though the blood flowed from his mouth. 

" I should be loth to kill so brave a knight," said the Governor of 
Jerusalem. " I offer you your life ; take it at my hands." 




The musicians are disconcerted 



" I can accept nothing from you but blows," said Roland, quietly; " because 
I feel certain I can give you as good as I take, and perhaps even throw in 
a little over." 

" As you please," said Angoulaffre ; and once more they resumed the 
fight. 

The giant flung aside his lance, and took a battle-axe, the sight of 
which gave the spectators a fit of cold shivers. Roland also laid aside his 
spear, and drew Durandal from its sheath. 



62 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



Veillantif seemed endowed with human intelligence. The brave creature 
divined the slightest wish of its master. Now it bounded, now it scoured 
the plain; anon it charged or it reared, and ever it went unhurt through the 
shower of blows. The horse of the Saracen was not worth half of Roland's. 
Its size and weight rendered it difficult to manage. For some minutes it 
coughed incessantly, and scarcely obeyed bit or spur. Roland, by a clever 
turn, took the giant in flank, and with one blow of his tremendous sword 
clove in two the horse of his opponent. 

Angoulaffre came to earth, seated between the two severed halves of his 
steed, and bellowing with astonishment and anger. 

The Saracens had left off laughing now. Their music was silenced. 
Garlan the Bearded, who commanded them, foamed with rage ; he tore out 
a good tenth of his beard by the roots. The Alcalde of Valentia foresaw 
the fate of Angoulaffre, and was asking himself whether he and his men 
should ever see Spain again. 

Roland was loudly cheered ; but, without taking any heed of it, he 
dismounted, and, approaching the colossus, who had not yet regained his feet, 
he said— 




The end of An^oulaffre's charter. 



" Keep your seat, governor, and while you rest yourself, send some of 
your warriors to me ; there will then be no time lost." 

" May I be struck by a thousand thunderbolts, if I give you a moment's 
respite! Mount, and defend yourself!" 

" I am not in the habit of taking any advantage in a combat. Since 
you are dismounted, I will continue the contest on foot." 

During this conversation ten horses had drawn from the lists the remains 
of Angoulaffre's steed. 

Then began a combat yet more terrible than any of its predecessors. 
The marvel was how Roland escaped the rain of blows aimed at him ; but 
the bold knight managed so admirably, that he got close to the monster, 
and cut off his right leg at the knee. 

You will guess, my iriends, how sad a figure the Governor of Jerusalem 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 63 

cut with such a very ill-assorted pair of legs. He fell, biting the ground 
with rage, and rolling to and fro in his attempt to rise, until he wept at 
his own impotence. Roland approached him. 

" You cannot continue the struggle. Your life is in my power. Accept 
Christian baptism, and I will spare you." 

Angoulaffre, without answering, rolled himself to the place where his axe 
had fallen, seized it, and cut off his left leg at the knee. Then raising 
himself on his stumps, he gazed sternly at Roland, and said, simply — 

" I am read}'!" 

At the sight of this act of Spartan heroism both Christians and Pagans 
applauded. Charlemagne himself was touched. 

" Governor of Jerusalem," said he, " desist from this useless struggle. 
What greater proof could you give of your courage ? Believe me, when you 
appear again before your king in this guise, and tell him, ' It is Roland who 
has conquered me,' you will not see him sneer at you." 

" You — you Christians, then — can live after the shame of having been 
vanquished ? That, and that only, is beyond our power. Behold, faint hearts ! 
You have seen how we can fight ; see now how well we know how to die ! " 

I will not, my dear young friends, relate to you the end of this fearful 
conflict. It was no longer a battle — -it was a butchery. Blows followed 
one another without pause. Roland was covered with wounds ; his armour 
was hacked away piece by piece, but he did not give ground. He felt his 
strength failing, and desired at any price to bring the contest to an end. 
Without regarding the almost certain death to which he exposed himself, 
he closed with his foe, and dealt him a tremendous blow, which stretched 
him at his feet. 

There was one short minute, during which the impressed spectators 
kept silence. The respect which bravery always commands restrained the 
burst of the general rejoicing ; but, these first few seconds past, every one 
felt himself relieved of an immense peril. 

The sight of Roland, to whom Charlemagne had hastened, was the 
signal for an outburst of irantic cheering from every side. 

The king embraced his nephew, and said — 

" I would reward you for so splendid a victory. What would you have ? 
My gratitude is unbounded : let your desire be without limit. Which of my 
provinces shall I bestow on you ?" 

" I am yet more ambitious. When I wish to own a province, I will 0-0 
win it with my sword." 

"What would you have, then?" 



6 4 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



Aude had just left Oliver, who had no longer need of her care. She 
felt that the triumph of her lover would not be complete if she did not 
share it. 

Roland gazed at her so meaningly, that Charles turned to Gerard de 
Vienne, and said — 

" Here is an ambitious gallant, who seeks his reward at your hands. 
What say you, Gerard, and you, Lady Guibourg ? Does it not seem to you 
that your niece will be fortunate in having for a spouse my friend and 
nephew, Roland ? I ask her hand of you for him." 

" Sire," said Gerard, " it is dointj us too go-eat an honour." 

" Aude could not have a nobler husband than Roland, who comes of 
your royal line, sire," said the Lady Guibourg. 

" I was not rich enough to satisfy this grasping soul," replied Charle- 
magne, " and I thank you, Gerard, for coming to my help. Ah ! Turpin, 
here is work for you. No other is worthy to celebrate such nuptials as 
these. Have ready a splendid sermon for the occasion, for the wedding 
shall take place on our return to Cologne." 




Ang-oulaffre bruu"lu lo his knees. 




Angoulaffre's death-agony. 



CHAPTER XII. 



THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ANGOULAFFRE. 



NGOULAFFRE was stretched on the ground, surrounded by his 
companions In arms \\ hen the surgeons came to dress his wounds, 
he rejected their aid. 

" Go to the Evil One, vile concocters of drugs ! My soul is not foolish 
enough to dwell in so dilapidated a mansion as that which I have to offer 
now. All your remedies will but drive her away the sooner. Come hither, 
Alcalde of Yalentia, Corsablix, Margariz — all of you — come round me, that I 
may die while looking on the faces of friends. Tell to King Marsillus the 
manner of Murad's death — and mine. Tell him that with my last breath 
I called for vengeance on Roland. I bequeath to you a hatred so fierce and 
strong, that it cannot but survive me. I leave all my property, without 
exception, for the furtherance of vengeance. If bribery can help you, spare 
nothing : there is no human integrity that could withstand the sight of the 
wealth you have to offer. Swear to me you will spare no means of hastening 
the downfall of this accursed one, and I shall die more happy." 

" Rely upon us," said Priamus. " We inherit your hatred ; and whether 
it be ten years, or whether it be twenty years hence, rely on it, this Roland 
shall perish by our hands ! " 



66 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



" We will hew him into as many pieces as he has given you wounds," 
said Garlan the Bearded. 

" His death shall become a tradition," added Abysm, the favourite of 
Marsillus. " I swear to you, people shall speak of it when the recollection 
of this petty Charles shall be extinct." 

"You had better implore the aid and protection of the Prophet in your 
undertaking, for he who has vanquished me is not to be lightly overcome," 
said Angoulaffre. 

" If we have to unpeople Nubia, Persia, Egypt, the Atlas, the Caucasus, 




Priamus promises. 

Scythia, and Spain, to swell our forces," said Ecremis of Vauterne, " as sure 
as Mahomet is greater than St. Peter, Charles and his knights shall perish 
ere long." 

" Before a year elapses we will sleep at Cologne," said another. 

"Enough, babblers and boasters!" said Angoulaffre, who lelt the 
chills of death approaching ; " do your best to carry back your carcasses 
whole to Spain, and if Mahomet grants you that favour, renew there 
these promises. In the meantime, take care of your precious hides in 
to-monow's tourney. Death grasps me by the throat — farewell! Ah, dog 
of a Roland !" 

These were the last words of the Governor of Jerusalem. 

Sixty Saracens, marching in two files, bearing thirty spears between 



THE TOURNEY AT PRONSAC. 



67 



them (a soldier holding each end of a spear), extemporised a litter, on which 
the dead body of the giant was placed. 

Two hours before, he had entered the lists, mounted on his steed, 
followed by a brilliant suite of kings, emirs, and alcaldes, and preceded by 
a band of barbarous music ; proud of his strength, relying on his own 
bravery, boasting, and threatening. But if Heaven does not favour the 
cause of the lion, it not unfrequently happens that the lamb gets consider- 
ably the better of him. 




The enraged Garlan. 




The treacherous wolf. 



CHAPTER XIII. 



THE TWO ROGUES RELEASED. 



THE whole assembly was so full of other matters, that no one gave a 
thought to Ganelon or Wolf. Pinabel, the nephew of the Count of 
Mayence, was the first to recollect them. Approaching Charlemagne, he 
inquired if it would not be proper to release the two suspended knights, 
and if the king would entrust the task to him. 

" That concerns Roland," said the king ; " he has achieved their deliver- 
ance, and therefore they are his property. Go, then, nephew, and take down 
the two heroes, who are cutting so very sorry a figure up yonder. You will, 
of course, think it proper to give them the use of their wings." 

Roland was talking with Aude, and was not particularly pleased at the 
interruption. However, he went to the chapel, where he arrived in a very 
bad humour. 

" It is very hard," said he to Ganelon, " to be put to inconvenience every 
minute for people who are not the least grateful for what one does. When 
a man hasn't the strength to carry out an enterprise, he should not attempt 
it. This is the second time that I have had to release you from a state of 
suspense, and for no fault of mine. For Heaven's sake, in future don't put 
the credit of France in jeopardy lightly. Remember, you are not the only 
Frenchman in the world, and also that I cannot always be close at your 
heels to repair your blunders." And, without further delay, he restored 
the two suspended knights to the ground, and returned to the fair Aude. 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



6 9 



" Well," said Wolf to Ganelon, " are you in the humour to digest affronts 
like those ?" 

" I fancy, my lord duke, you have had your share of them too, and 
they don't seem to disagree with you." 

"It would be only right to chastise him for his insolence." 

"And pray what hinders you?" said the count, smiling. 

" The same reason that teaches you patience. This Roland is a brute 
and a ■" 

But here the idlers congregated around the two vanquished knights, 
and mocked at them unsparingly. Not being anxious to supply public 
amusement gratis, they thought fit to retreat, and returned to their tents, 
where they passed the night in the formation of projects that were far from 
Christian, though they originated in Christian brains. 




The released champ 



pions, 



The sleeping camp. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



THE CORSELET OF CAMBRIC. 



I 



T is nine o'clock. All is quiet in the camp. The fires have been 
extinguished as a measure of prudence, and only the moon is allowed 



to gleam. 



In the plain, however, a few tumblers displayed their feats by torch- 
light to a few spectators, but ere long, losing their public, they were fain 
to pack up their traps and seek repose beneath seme forest tree. By 
degrees every noise died away. Hardly a chirrup was heard to give life 
to a lovely night; still, now and then, one heard from afar the ringing of 
steel. It was some watch on its rounds. The armour glittered a moment 
in the moonbeams and then disappeared, and that was all. 

Let us, too, go our rounds, and see what is passing in the camp. We 
will begin with the Royal tent. If you were not with me, my dear young 
people, I would defy you to enter it. Never was treasure or sacred relic 
so carefully guarded. Charles slept in a great bed of state, and a hundred 
of his bravest and stoutest men were appointed to guard him. Forty 
knights kept watch, changing guard three times a night, according to the 
muster-roll — ten at the head, ten at the foot, and ten on either side, each 
with a drawn sword and a torch. 

Aude, too, had retired to her pavilion. She could not sleep, how- 
ever, for thinking of all that had happened during the day— a clay that had 
been at once hateful and glad : hateful, because it had nearly deprived her 
of her dear Oliver ; joyful, because it had decided her marriage with 
Roland — her dear Roland. Her waiting-women surrounded her. Ten 
Moorish maidens sang to her Spanish ballads, which she preferred to all 
others, but to-night she heard them not — she was lost in meditation. Four 
Saxon damsels combed her long tresses, waiting for the signal to dress it 
fur the night, a signal she forgot to give. Eight Lombard girls had made 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



71 




Roland and Oliver reposing 



ready a perfumed bath, but it had been three times prepared already, for 
it grew cold while she was musing. Oghris was not more fortunate. He 
had gently placed his head in her lap, but she had not bestowed on him 
a single glance. He was a guard that made a mockery of the precaution 
taken to put sentinels at the tent-door 

Roland slept beside Oliver. The two gallant fellows had fallen 
asleep hand in hand. The friends were now virtually brothers. 

Meanwhile Ganelon and Wolf had concocted a murderous undertaking. 

" Don't you think Marsillus would give a handsome price for Roland's 
body ? " 

"I believe you," answered the Duke of Aquitaine ; "but it would be 
better to deliver him up alive, and let the king manage him. It is by 
craft we must oppose him ; as 
to force, we must not dream of 
that, for neither you nor I could 
do anything with him in that 
line. 

Let us take a stroll now 
beyond the camp, and see who 

they are that wander in the skirts of the forest. A delightful couple are 
whispering together. Mita, the worthy sister of Aude, whom we remarked 
at the head of the royal cortege, and who was called " the little knight 
of pearls," Mita was walking along, leaning on the arm of Miton of 
Rennes, the friend of Roland. They were followed by a waiting-maid and 
a page. 

" My sister is fortunate in having for her knight such a man as 
Roland." 

" Cannot you see how it breaks my heart to hear you speak so ? To 
win your favour must one be the only knight who has no equal in the 
field ? " 

" I know my own value, and it seems to me that I deserve to have 
prodigies of valour done to win me. Listen, Sir Miton. You would wed 
me : is it not so ? You repeat, over and over again, you would achieve 
miracles for my sake ! " 

" It is true." 

" Then I shall seek a proof of this to-morrow. At daybreak you will 
receive my commands. If you carry out well the enterprise I shall plan 
for you, I will be yours — yours devotedly. If you attempt it, but do not 
succeed, I shall be your friend as heretofore, but nothing beyond. It you 



72 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



draw back, never speak to me again, for I should speak to you as to a 
poltroon." 

They had now reached the camp, where they must part. 
" Farewell, Miton ; may you succeed to-morrow. I go to pray for your 
success." 

She reached out a hand, which trembled in that of the knight, and 
which he kissed respectfully. Miton returned to his tent, but did not close 
his eyes all night. Ever)- time a footstep passed near his tent he rushed 
to the door, expecting to receive the message from Mil a. At early dawn 
an attendant came with a packet, which she gave to him, and said — 

"My mistress sends me to you to communicate her wishes. 'Go 
seek Sir Miton,' she said to me, 'and bid him rejoice if he be truly 

desirous of proving to me that he 
is worthy of my love, for I am 
going to give him an opportunity 
of proving it. Give to him this 
cambric garment of mine, and bid 
him wear it to-morrow in the fvdit. 
If he loves me he will consider it 
a talisman more potent and more 
secure than steel, and, full of con- 
fidence, will present himself at the 
tournament without any other ar- 
mour except his greaves, his shield, 
and his helmet. If he does this 
and triumphs, I shall be ready to 
give him any proof of my love 
that he may demand. If he does 
not succeed, he shall none the less 
have my esteem and friendship for having essayed it. If he should tall, I 
will wear mourning for him and die in a convent. If he refuse, I shall 
despise him as the falsest and most cowardly of men.' " 

Miton, who had sunk on his knees to receive from the messenger of 
his love the packet, which he covered with kisses, rose smilingly, and 
spoke thus to the attendant : — 

" Return to her whom you have the honour to serve, and tell her 
that I am happy and proud that she has given me an opportunity of dying 
for her pleasure. Without her, life is nothing to me : and this is putting 
me to too easy a trial, for I feared she would send me away from her, 




The corselet of cambri* 



THE TOURNEY AT FROXSAC. 



7 



o 



and that would have been to put me to a slow and lingering death. I 
feel truly blest now, since I can devote to her openly every minute as it 
passes to her service." 

IMiton gave all the gold and silver he possessed to the messenger, 
dismissed her, and prepared himself for the battle. 

He put on the garment sent him by JMita, and I assure you he looked 
very well, and not at all ridiculous, when he was equipped as his lady had 
commanded. 

I ought to tell you, my friends, that our knight was about twenty- 
three, and had a handsome face, framed in long yellow locks. He was 
second to none in either elegance or strength. 

The cambric corselet which he had assumed, bound round his waist 
with a rich girdle, came down to his knees, leaving bare his neck and 
arms, which were very white. 

Thus equipped he visited the Archbishop Turpin, related to him his 
adventure, confessed to him, took the sacrament, and then gave himself 
up to prayer until the hour for entering the lists. 




Miton and Turpin, 




The Meleg, 



CHAPTER XV. 

MONTJOIE ! MONTJOIE ! ST. DENIS ! 

IT was nine o'clock in the morning. The heralds went about everywhere, 
shouting aloud, "Lace your helms, brave knights! lace your helms!" 

The combatants got ready for the conflict. They examined for the 
last time with the greatest care every minute point of their armour, and 
made sure that their horses were properly equipped and saddled. These 
precautions taken, they hurried off to the lists ; the Saracens by the southern 
gate, the Christians by the northern. 

Charlemagne took his place in the Royal pavilion, with Himiltrude by 
his side. , Aude placed herself on the throne reserved for the Queen of 
Beauty. Oghris laid himself at her feet, surveying the crowd with wondering 
eyes. 

The benches were crowded. The knights took their places. Trumpet- 
peal and shout rent the air. The Emperor was in his place. 

The heralds next proclaimed silence, read the conditions of the tour- 
nament, and called on the knights to do their duty, for the honour of Heaven, 
the Emperor, and the ladies. Then they called the two leaders, Christian 
and Saracen, to take command of their forces. 

Garlan the Bearded rode forth, and reviewed his men. Miton did the 
same, and advanced into the centre of the lists. His novel style of armour 
attracted some attention. 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 



75 



" What is this ?" said Charlemagne. " Is Miton out of his senses, or 
does he come here to seek certain death ? Go instantly, and command him 
to quit the lists." 

Ogier the Dane darted forward to convey the Royal command, but was 
stopped by Turpin, who had heard Charles's exclamation. 

" Pardon me, sire, for thus suspending the execution of an order you 
have given ; but Miton is performing a vow. Your Majesty would find it 
vain to forbid him the combat. Heaven alone is able to preserve him." 

The severe eye of the bishop met the supplicating looks of Mita, and 
her eyes sought the ground. 

Aude understood all, and wished to interpose. 

" Sire, you will not suffer so brave a knight to be slain " 

Charlemagne shook his head sadly. " I know Miton, and nothing will 
prevent him from carrying out his enterprise." 

Then turning towards the suite of the Queen of Beauty, he said — 

" I have among you, ladies, a cruel foe, who 
thus devotes to death one of my bravest knights. 
Let us say the prayer for the dead on behalf of the 
victim of this relentless beauty." 

All rose, and repeated the supplication in a low 
voice, Turpin leading them. The terrified Mita 
alone had not the power to rise. She sank on her 
knees, and would have remained there motionless 
and overcome, had not her sister raised her. 

In the meantime Miton, ignorant of what was 
passing, and not even hearing the shouts of the 
crowd, or the entreaties of his comrades, who begged 
him not to devote himself in this way to destruction — 
Miton, gay and proud, to think of the trial he was subjected to, had made 
all his dispositions for the combat. 

There were a hundred horsemen in the field — fifty on either side. 
Their leaders drew them up in two lines of twenty-five._ It was truly an 
imposing sight — these brave fellows, clad in their glittering arms,- in firm 
and compact lines, planted well in their war-saddles. One might have 
called them a column of iron. The horses, no less impatient than their 
masters, whinnied and pawed the ground. 

At last Charlemagne gave the signal. 

" Charge ! " shouted the heralds. 

Scarcely were their voices heard ere the first rank of combatants dashed 




Love on the pillion. 



76 THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 

forward. The two parties met halfway with an alarming crash. In vain 
did the spectators attempt to make out the result of this first onset. They 
were obliged to wait till the dust had blown off. The heart of Mita beat 
very fast during those few seconds, but at last she beheld her knight 
hand-to-hand with Garlan the Bearded. Onedialt of the combatants were 
stretched on the earth ; some so sorely wounded, that their squires had 
to come, raise them, and drag them out of the melee. Others, however, got 
up without aid, and went to seek fresh adversaries. 

Priamus had his spear broken, but he had kept his seat in the saddle. 
Seeing Girars of Roussillon engaged with Corsablix, a wild chief from the 
Atlas, he rushed towards them with uplifted blade. But the Burgundian 
knight perceived his approach, and rapidly dashing at his first opponent, 
he seized him by the throat, made him do service as a shield against the 
blows of the King of Persia, and finally flung him, a bleeding and mangled 
corpse, under the feet of the horses. Then, having but one enemy to deal 
with, he determined to seize Priamus's horse, and made such good use of 
his feet, nails, and teeth, that in a twinkling he was in the saddle ; while 
the King of Persia, rolling in the dust, yielded up his impious soul through 
twenty gaping wounds. 

"Allah Akbar! Allah is great!" cried the Saracens. 

"St. Denis, Montjoie ! Montjoie ! " cried the knights; and, lo ! the 
second rank flung itself into the conflict. 

The blare of trumpets and Saracen horns, the beating of drums and 
gongs, drowned the noise of groans and imprecations. 

The dead and dying were once more dragged out. The wounded 
sought shelter as best they could. Forty warriors yet remained to contest 
the field — twenty-five Saracens and fifteen Franks. 

For a quarter of an hour Miton and Garlan had fought together, with 
no advantage on either side. With his keen blade • the Count of Rennes 
had cleft the casque of the Alcalde of Valentia, and would have split his 
skull open but for the turban, which deadened the blow. Garlan had hacked 
in pieces his adversary's shield, and the corselet of cambric began to be 
marbled with streaks of gore. Miton saw that the ranks of his warriors 
were thinning, and was anxious to make an end of his foe in order to hasten 
to their aid. He closed with him, knee to knee, foot to foot, and, regardless 
of the clanger to which he exposed himself, seized Garlan by the gorget 
of his coat of mail, dragged him from his horse, and then passing him 
from his right hand to his left, held the point of his sword to his throat, 
and compelled him to yield to his mercy. Then he sent the miscreant a 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 77 

foot beyond the barriers, and gave his charger to Thierry, Duke of Ardennes, 
who had just been unhorsed. 

Cha'chaan el Da'djah, Emir of Toledo, entertained the presumptuous 
idea of avenging Garlan the Bearded, as if, because he had strangled a few 
lions in the desert, ripped up a few elephants, and cut in pieces a million 
or so of enemies, he could pretend to hope for the conquest of a French 
knight. He shouted his war-cry, and darted forward to meet the Count ot 
Rennes, brandishing, as he did so, a huge flail with seven chains, the same 
with which Attila armed himself when fighting the legions of Aetius. But 
the blow was delivered in empty air — dragged the Emir forward, and 
made him lose his balance. Miton took advantage of this miss to seize 
Cha'chaan el Da'djah by the leg, and dragged him from his seat with 
such violence as to break the saddle, entangle him with the harness, and 
throw the horse down on its side. Then the spectators beheld a strange 
sight. The Count of Rennes grasped his foeman by the ankles, rose in 
his stirrups, and, using the body as a mace, swung it round his head, 
dashed into the thick of the fight, and began laying about right and left 
at the Saracens with the Emir. Every time this novel arm fell it 
encountered some weapon of defence, so that before long little was left of 
it but shreds. After a time the mortal instrument of war lost its weight, 
and became useless. When Miton flung it away it had stretched eight 
Saracens on the plain. 

He cast his eye over the field. Marganice, Governor of Carthagena, 
was fighting with Roard of Limoges and Itiers of Clermont ; Garnaille, 
King of Ethiopia, confronted Lambert the Short and Humbert, Count of 
Bourges ; M'kamat Haddada, Caliph of Mecca, was showing a bold front to 
Riol of Mans, Hoel of Nantes, and Bazin of Geneva. Alis, King of 
Morocco, was encrafred with Pinabel ; while San^aran, who ruled at the 
source of the Niger, Baimalanko, chief of the tribes on the borders of the 
Dead Sea — each one of these two blacker than the other — and Zumzum- 
Kalakh, King of Garbe, pressed hard on Aimery of Narbonne, who was, 
however, mvino' them two blows for one. 

Miton flew to his rescue, and in three minutes, and with twenty strokes 
of his sword, had ridded him of his foes. Sangaran and Baimalanko iell 
before his arm, and went to rejoin the Evil One whose livery they wore. 

" Thanks, I owe you a similar service," said Aimery to the Count of 
Rennes. " I shall have finished with this villain in a few seconds. I am 
not afraid of a single encounter, so leave me and go succour Pinabel, who 
has scarce blood enough left to keep him alive." 



78 THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 

And, in truth, the nephew of Ganelon was fighting in the dark, for 
he was blinded with his own blood. The Kino- of Morocco, who saw a 
new foeman coming towards him, determined to abandon the contest with 
Pinabel and charge at once on Miton, a manoeuvre he accomplished so 
rapidly that he took the latter by surprise. For four seconds the Count 
of Rennes was exposed defenceless to the fury of Alis, and this unguarded 
moment cost him a gash which laid open his left arm from shoulder to 
elbow, and marked him with a purple chevron on the wrist. Mita uttered 
a shriek as if she had received the blow, and hid her face in her hands. 

"See," said Himiltrude, "what interest the little Mita takes in the 
combat, sire. The wound the Count of Rennes has just received makes 
her heart bleed." 

" Keep your nonsense to yourself, madam," said the Emperor, who 
hated to be interfered with at the wrono- moment. " When men wield the 
sword, women should not wag the tongue ;" and he abruptly turned his back 
on his consort. In point of fact, it was not a well-chosen time for talking. 

And now Riol of Mans had, with a dexterous back stroke, sent the 
head of M'kamat Haddada flying, and this new kind of projectile had 
struck Marganice, Governor of Carthagena, in the face, and so confused 
him that he neglected to parry a furious blow aimed at him by Itiers of 
Clermont. This really excusable oversight cost him his life. One sharp 
thrust pinned him to his horse's crupper like a butterfly on a cork. 

Garnaille also perceived his end approaching. Lambert the Short 
gave him no respite. 

"It shall never be said," cried, fiercely, the King of the Ethiopians, 
" that I received my death-blow from a Christian hand." Thereupon, 
resting the pommel of his sword on the ground, he flung himself on the 
point and expired shouting, " Allah ! " 

Aimery of Narbonne, a lad of sixteen, seemed to be playing with his 
opponent. 

" Dog ! " exclaimed Zumzum-Kalakh, " cannot you fight more steadily?" 

" I will give you a lesson in politeness," said Aimery, still smiling. 
" First of all, I don't approve of people addressing me without baring their 
heads." As he spoke, his sword sent the King of Garbe's helm flying. It 
was one of the famous casques of the ancient tribes of Beni-Ad. 

" Bravo, Pagan. Are not you afraid of getting sunburnt ? " 

A blow of the battle-axe, which shivered the Count of Narbonne's 
shield, was all the answer vouchsafed by Zumzum-Kalakh. 

" Bless me ! he's getting vicious," said Aimery, without being in the 
least put out. " We must teach him to say he's sorry." 



THE TOURNEY AT FRONSAC. 79 

His sword whirled in the air and smote off the wrist of the King of 
Garbe, and so brought the combat to a close. 

The King- of Morocco alone continued to make resistance. Miton 
hastened to dispatch him, for he felt his strength failing him. However, 
he would receive aid from no quarter save Heaven. His shield was riven, 
his left arm, laid open with a terrible gash, hung powerless by his side, 
and every blow he dealt his enemy cost him five in return. 

Mita had no eyes for any but the Count of Rennes. She lived with 
his life, she suffered for his wounds, and she would have fallen dead had 
he perished. How she blamed her cruel commands, and how she hated 
the King of Morocco ! In truth few men's deaths have been as fervently 
prayed for as his was. 

Miton felt a cold sweat seize him ; a mournful singing in his ears 
made him fancy his end was approaching. He struggled against death, 
and gave one last blow at his opponent, then fell senseless under his 
horse's hoofs. That blow was the last the Moorish king received. The 
sword pierced his bosom, and the steel remained fast in the wound. He 
was immediately seized with the death shudder, flung wide his arms, 
dropped his weapons, and uttered so terrible a cry that his frightened 
steed ran away at full speed straight ahead until he dashed against the 
walls of the lists. His rider rolled in the dust. The King of Morocco 
was no more. 

Charlemagne sprang up beaming with joy. 

" Ogier," said he to the King of Denmark, " go bring me news of 
Miton, and tell him how I prize his valour. I am, moreover, not the only 
one who prizes him here, it appears. Well, little one," he added, turning 
to Mita, "you have perilous fancies. For this once all has turned out 
well, but you must promise me not to tempt the devil a second time." 

Mita flung herself at the Emperor's feet, and kissed his hand in silence. 
Charlemagne smiled. 

"Come," said he, "rise, Countess of Rennes." 




Tile moribund Muur. 



The discomfited band. 



CHAPTER XVI. 



A FUNERAL MARCH. 

THUS ended this brilliant passage of arms. Was Inot right, my children, 
when I told you that its equal was never seen ? 

The wounded Saracens were conveyed to hospital, and I need hardly 
add, they were as well cared for as if they had been duly-baptised Christians. 

The dead were buried ; they were sixty-three in number, neither more 
nor less. There were, after this tournament, a great many thrones to let 
in the East. 

The surgeons declared that the wounded would not be fit to move 
for a month at the very least. 

Charlemagne loaded the survivors with rich gifts, and then, after four 
or five clays of rejoicing, he prepared to depart, leaving Fronsac strongly 
garrisoned. He wished to spend Advent Sunday at a town anciently called 
Durie, in the diocese of Julliers, and the Feast of the Resurrection at the 
Cathedral of St. Lambert, in Liege. 

When the Saracens were left alone, they determined, after a long con- 
sultation, to inform King Marsillus without delay of the melancholy fate of 
his envoys, and to bear to him the mortal remains of his son. Nobody, 
however, cared to be the bearer of such tidings, and one and all professed 
to suffer horribly from their wounds. In short., of all that brilliant expedition, 
there were none left to perform this duty except the band. 

The solemn procession set out for Spain. The drums, covered with 
mourning, preceded the hearse about twenty paces. 

Thus it was that Murad Henakyeh Meimoumovassi re-entered his father's 
dominions ! 




The crescent in distress. 
END OF THE FIRST ROOK. 



BOOK THE SECOND. 



THE PROPHET'S PARADISE 




The lion's latest love. 

BOOK THE SECOND. 

THE PROPHET'S PARADISE. 



CHAPTER I. 

HOW CROQUEMITAIXE WAS CHRISTENED. 

IN turning over the last page, my young friends, you have grown nine 
years older. You see time flies quickly when you read my writings. 
Do I ask too much in begging you to make a hasty flight with me, in Ave 
minutes, from the year 769 to the year 77S ? 

Charlemagne, after having, as I said just now, performed his religious 
duties at Duren and at Liege, returned to Worms at the beginning of the 
year 770. There Miton and Mita were married, and there, subsequently, 
the latter gave birth to a lovely little girl, who was called Mitaine — a lovely 
little angel, plump and soft, with large black eyes, and golden locks as bright 
as the glory of a saint. Charlemagne saw the infant one day in its mother's 
arms, and believed he beheld a vision. 

" Surely," said the good Emperor, " this is Our Lady with her holy 
babe!" 

When he came nearer, he recognised the Countess of Rennes. 

"You are too blest, Lady Mita. You are favoured of Heaven indeed. 
It is not possible but that this little angel should bring good fortune to 
all who approach her ; and, if she has not already been christened, I should 



84 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



like to be one of her sponsors. Would you wish me to be her god- 
father?" 

Charlemagne took one of the child's tiny hands, and kissed it, the little 
arm disappearing entirely in the monarch's bushy beard and moustache. 

Ther, radiant with joy at this meeting, which 
he looked upon as a good omen, the Emperor 
hastened to an assembly of the people that he had 
convened. He was so happy and devoid of anxiety, 
that he yielded to the intercession of his mother, 
Bertha of the Big Feet, who had long been trying 
in vain to bring about a reconciliation between him 
and his brother Carloman. 

Daring this same year Himiltrude bore a 
son, who was charming in face, but, unfortunately, 
deformed in figure. Charles christened him Pepin, 
but the people nick-named him Hunchback; and 
when the populace takes upon itself to act as 
sponsor, the names it gives do not die out. 

This son and heir was not calculated to flatter 
the Emperor's dignity. His father did not receive 
him very favourably, and determined to divorce 
Himiltrude. 

Aude and Roland, less fortunate than Miton 
and Mita, were not yet married. 
" Sire, is it not time to celebrate our nuptials?" said the Count ot Mans 
one day to Charlemagne. " For eight months I have been waiting your 
pleasure, and I trust you will at last fix a day for the marriage." 

The Emperor had just had a dispute with his queen about the child, 
so that he did not just then regard marriage very favourably. He did not 
listen with a very good grace to his nephew's entreaty. 

" By my beard, I consider you're in too great a hurry : — know that ! 
Your beard is scarce grown, and yet you want to be at the head of an 
establishment. That is not what / consider proper. You have to make 
a name for yourself before you think of transmitting it to others. Besides, 
a man never fights so well if he has a wife and family ; so don't bother 
my head any more about it. You are, both of you, young enough to wait — 
wait !" 

Queen Bertha, who had no more affection for her daughter-in-law than 
Charles had tor his wife set out for Lombardy to settle a fresh alliance. 




Mita and her baby. 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



85 



and before long returned with Desiderade, daughter of Didier, King ot 
Lombardy. Himiltrude, I should add, was divorced, despite the threats of 
the Pope, Stephen the Third. 

Charlemagne spent his Christmas this year in Burgundy, and Easter 
at Valenciennes, in Hainault. 

The reconciliation of the brothers had never been more than a formal 
one; so that when, about the second week in December, 771, Charles heard 
of Carloman's death at Samoucy, a royal palace in the old diocese of Laon, 
he did not waste any time on tears. He called together a full court at 
Valenciennes, announced to his lords the death of his brother, and led them 
into Neustria. He encamped on the royal farms of Carbonac, in the midst 




Roland's request. 

of the forest of Ardennes. The formidable appearance of the forces he 
commanded induced the nobles and bishops to do fealty to him. Gerberge, 
daughter of Didier, and widow of Carloman, endeavoured vainly to assert 
her children's rights. She was compelled to fly with them and a few 
attendants, and seek refuge at the court of her father. Charlemagne was 
then proclaimed sole ruler of all the realm of the Franks. 

Queen Bertha's choice had not proved a very fortunate one. Desiderade, 
sister of the dethroned Queen of Neustria, did not make a very sprightly 
appearance at the Court of France, so Charles determined to get rid of her. 



86 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



Roland, who was ever lamenting the indefinite postponement of his 
marriage, once more addressed his uncle on the subject. 

" You do not intend, I am sure, sire, to do me a wrong, but you 
inflict more suffering on me than I can express by thus perpetually adjourning 
my union with Aude." 

Charlemagne, who had just been having high words with the queen, 
was not favourably disposed to marriages. He replied, in an ill humour — 
" Do you want to drive me crazy, my fine nephew ? Marriage is a 
folly, take my word for it. Besides, I have a fancy to ravage the land 
of Saxony. I hear that in a town they call Eresburg — I don't know 
why — they worship an idol named Irminsul, and I have set myself the 
task of burning this impudent divinity. I count on your assistance. On 
my return we will talk about your marriage." 
Roland went away sadly to find his Aude. 

In the year 771, the Emperor 
spent Easter at Herstall, and Christmas 
at Attigny. About the beginning of 
the year 772 he convened his nobles 
at Worms, placed himself at their head, 
and invaded Saxony. This land, sub- 
divided into numerous petty states, was 
inhabited by Westphalians, Osterlindsi, 
Sclaves, Hungarians, &c. All these 
tribes were driven back to the Baltic, 
their idols were destroyed, and their 
lands devastated. Compelled to sue for 
peace, they came in and did homage 
on the banks of the Weser. 

Charlemagne, who was no less 
terrible to his wives than to his enemies, got rid of Desiderade, his 
second queen, and determined to marry a third. He was of this mind 
when Roland once more sought him. 

" Sire, since you have given me encouragement to hope, I come to 
remind you that I love Aude, the niece of Gerard of Vienna, your friend, 
and that you have promised her to me in marriage as a reward for 
conquering Angoulaffre. You desired me to follow you to Saxon)-, and I 
did so ; no one can say, surely, that I was sparing of my person in the 
campaign. You have often spoken severely against marriage, but I 
understand you have changed your views, since you are, for a third time, 




Roland's rejection. 



THE PROPHET S PARADISE. 



87 




A royal roar. 



going to do yourself what you used to say was bad for others. I am 
your sister's son. I have served you to the best of my ability, and every 
one agrees that the ability of Roland 
is no trifle. Will you not please to fix 
a day for my nuptials ? " 

Charlemagne was in a particularly 
good humour that clay. He burst out 
laughing at his nephew, and said — 

" By my beard and sceptre, I 
believe this youngster is going to set 
me to school. My friend Ganelon was 
right when he had me beware lest this 
rogue should lead me by the nose. 
So-ho ! my warrior, have I not made 
you Count of Mans and peer of the 
realm ? Have not I granted you the 
Marches of Brittany ? And must I 
now reward you for the blows you 
have struck in defence of your own 
precious hide ? No, my fine nephew ; 
I don't approve of people who try to force my game. Besides, I have a 
notion, after my marriage, of making an excursion in the direction of Lom- 
bardy. You will accompany me. When we come back we will see what 
is to be done." 

This year (772) Charles kept the 
festivals of Easter and Christmas at 
Herstall, on the Meuse. About this 
period Didier, King of Lombardy, in- 
vaded the states of St. Peter. Coming 
at the head of ten thousand stout 
lances, he laid siege to Rome. Pope 
Adrian did not lose heart for a trifle 
like that. He closed the gates of the 
Eternal City, carefully inspected the 
walls, and manned them with troops, 
determined to perish amid the ruins 
of his capital rather than surrender. 
Then he sent a deputation of bishops and men of distinction to Charle- 
magne, to remind the son of King Pepin that he was a Roman noble, 




A kick for Cupid. 



88 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



and that it was his duty to defend the Church in the person of its 
supreme head. The Emperor was not desperately fond of his ex-father-in- 
law, at whose court all his enemies found refuse. He had lone meditated 
an expedition in his direction, and so, accepting with joy this providential 
chance, he convened a full court at Paderborn. The expedition was 
resolved on enthusiastically, and Geneva was chosen as the rendezvous of 
the forces. The army was divided into two sections. Bernard, Charle- 
magne's uncle, had command of one column, with orders to cross Mount 

Joux (St. Bernard), and 
open a campaign in 
the plains of Milan, 
while the Emperor led 
his half of the army 
over Mount Cenis. 

In vain did Adal- 
gisus, son of Didier, 
attempt to defend the 
passes of the Alps. 
He was everywhere 
repulsed, and was 
hemmed in at Pavia, 
where his father joined 
him (October, 773). 
Pavia was then a 
castle, which would 
well have deserved the 
reputation of being im- 
pregnable if it had not 
(as is the case with 
all impregnable places) 
been taken several 
times. Nevertheless, 




Pavia in penL 



it displayed some coquettishness in the matter, never permitting itself to 
be captured till after a wearisome war ; for it required no less than a 
whole winter to scale its walls, which were seventy feet high, to carry its 
seventeen gates, and make oneself master of its sixty-two towers. 

Charlemagne went to Rome to spend the Holy Week. He entered 
it in triumph on the 2nd of April, 774. A grand procession of bishops and 
nobles went out to meet him at Novi, and accompanied him to St. John 



THE PROPHET S PARADISE. 



8 9 



at the Lateran, where Adrian waited to receive him. The crowd hailed 
him as a preserver. He was surrounded by banners and crosses ; people 
of distinction vied for the honour of carrying his victorious arms ; and little 
children, dressed in ancient costume, strewed flowers in his horse's path. 
The Pope and the Emperor embraced, and the latter, after having taken 
the sacrament, visited, attended by his suite, all the sacred spots in the 
great capital of the Christian world. 

A council was called, at which one hundred and fifty-three bishops 
and priests assembled to assist the Pope in conferring on Charlemagne 
the most extensive powers 
and privileges. 

During this time famine 
was making fearful havoc in 
Pavia. Every day people 
died of starvation in hun- 
dreds, but the town did not 
surrender. Charlemagne was 
not one who liked to see 
work long about. He quitted 
Rome and assumed the com- 
mand of the army, and a few 
days after Didier was forced 
to surrender. Neither his 
courage nor his submission 
could appease the Emperor, 
and the conquered prince, his 
head sprinkled with ashes, 
had to kneel to his new 
lord. The last of the Lom- 
bard kings became a monk, 
and finished his days, under 
the name of Brother De- 

siderat, in the monastery of Corbie. Ansa, his wife, the two sons of 
Carloman, and Gerberge their mother, with Desiderade, the divorced wife 
of the King of the Franks, all fell into Charles's hands, and he condemned 
them to the cloister. Lombardy was thus made the property of the crown 
of France. 

Aude and Mita had retired to Paris, where they awaited mournfully 
the return of Roland and Miton. Here the Countess of Rennes gave 

M 




Brother Desiderat. 



9o 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 




The drowned darling. 



birth to a marvellously beautiful boy, who was christened Mitis. Never 
was a baby made so much of. Nothing was good enough for him. The 
two women, left to themselves, formed endless projects, and counted with 
impatience the hours which seemed to pass so slowly. But one day the 
weeping attendants made their appearance, bearing the dead body of the 

little cherub. They related that a knight, 
with his visor closed, had attacked them 
and snatched the child from his nurse ; 
that, without regarding their cries or suppli- 
cations, he had made his way at full galop 
to a neio-hbourine; stream, where he had 
dismounted, and, thrusting the child into 
the water, had held it down with his foot 
for some minutes. Despite the threats he 
uttered they came up with him, but too 
late. The monster, having lifted the corpse 
ashore with his foot, remounted his horse 
and fled. 

The two sisters were for a long time 
like a couple of mad women. So excessive 
was the grief of each that one might fairly have asked which was the 
mother of the murdered babe. 

Now it happened that on the day of the murder Ganelon had passed 
through Paris on his way to 
Brittany. 

The Saxons, taking advantage 
of Charlemagne's absence, had in- 
vaded the territory lying between 
the Rhine and the Weser. The 
Emperor, but just returned from 
Lombardy, sent against them four 
formidable armies ; then, having 
held an assembly at Duren, he 
placed himself at the head of 
a fifth column and crossed the 
Rhine (775). He made himself 
master of Eresburg, and left a garrison there to hold it, and next defeated 
at Brunsberg the masses of Saxons that endeavoured to stop his passage 
of the Weser. He advanced as far as the Oder, cutting the Westphalian 




The despairing ladies. 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



9 I 



forces into pieces on his route, and then marched back after having 
reinforced the garrison of Eresbarg, which was to serve as a prison for his 
Saxon captives. 

This year Hildegarde presented Charlemagne with a daughter, who 
was christened Rotrude. The Emperor was so delighted with her that 
Roland ventured to renew his request. 

" Sire, you bade me share the campaigns in Saxony and Lombardy, 
and I did my duty to the best of my power. Is it not time " 

" My dear nephew, spare your eloquence. I see you coming, and 
begin to know your petition by heart. Well, by St. Nazaire ! I will grant 
you the request you press so warmly. In one month you shall be wed." 

Five days after they had to mount, and march for Italy again. Rotgause, 
Duke of Friuli, and Adalgisus, son of Didier, had resolved to attack Rome 
and Italy by sea and land (776). 

Charles once more crossed the Alps, took Rotgause a prisoner, and, 
having cut his head off, handed over the government of Friuli to one of 
his French nobles, the Count Markaire. Then he set out for Worms. 

One day the Emperor was riding at the head of his army, with Roland 
beside him. They were march- 
ing alongside of a splendid corn 
land. The reapers, terrified at 
the sight of the soldiers, had 
flung down their sickles, and 
fled ; but, their curiosity restor- 
ing- them their courage to some 
degree, they ventured to watch 
the column from a safe dis- 
tance. 

" Have you never, sire, en- 
vied the lot of these peasants ?" 
asked the Count of Mans. 

Charles looked at his nephew in wonderment, thinking he was gone mad. 

" When once their work is over," continued Roland, " they return to 
their homes to find a wife waiting on the threshold to embrace them, and 
a bevy of children who storm them for kisses ; while we " 

" I understand you, nephew mine. This is a new way of putting it 
that you are trying, and if I let you have your talk out, it would infallibly 
end in the old question, ' When is the marriage to be ?' I am not more 
hard-hearted than most people ; and, by the mass ! on my return " 




The haste of Hugo. 



92 THE PROPHETS PARADISE 

The Emperor paused. He had just caught sight of a whirlwind of 
dust a long way off. By degrees the whirlwind lessened to a cloud — the 
cloud turned into a horseman — the horseman proved to be Hugo of 
Cotentin. 

The Count Palatine had spurred fast to tell Charles that the Saxons 
were again in revolt, and were ravaging the banks of the Rhine. 

Roland sighed. " Aude — dearest Aude!" said he, "shall we never be 
united except in Paradise ? If I thought so, I would hasten the period, 
and get myself killed in the very next fight." 

But I should never finish my story if I were to relate to you all the 
expeditions of Charlemagne against the Saxons. He was always crossing 
the Rhine, sweeping away whole nations, receiving their submission, and 
taking hostages ; but scarcely had he turned his back before he heard the 
growlings of a fresh eruption. You will learn all this from pages more serious 
than mine. I will only add, that in 777 Charlemagne assembled the Saxons 
and their rulers at Paderborn, and that a great many came, and were baptised. 

I must now resume my story. 

Charlemagne is at Paderborn, surrounded by his Court. Hildegarde had 
borne him a son, who received the name of Carloman. Aude was more lovely 
than ever. Miton was now thirty-two, Mita twenty-seven, and Mitaine eight. 
Oghris was growing old now. His coat was turning silvery. He now 
required a long ten minutes to quarter an ox, but his claws were still good. 
He had taken a mighty fancy to Mitaine ; and often, when they had tried to 
separate them, the lion had grown so thin, and the child so melancholy, 
that they were compelled to abandon the idea. 

The ofod-child of Charlemagne had often been made the aim of assassins, 
and, without doubt, the same fate was intended for her that had befallen 
her brother. But Oghris was always at hand, and the murderers had to 
take to flight. On one occasion, however, one of them had not got off quickly 
enough, and so paid the penalty for the others. 

" Now, at last," said Miton, " I shall understand the meaning of all 
this ! " 

Unfortunately, the lion had not thought of this, and his victim was 
reduced to such small fragments that nothing could be discovered from them. 

Charles flew into a great rage on hearing of the attempts to which his 
god-child had, more than once, nearly fallen a victim. 

"By Joyeuse ! he who touches my god-child is a bold man. Tell me, 
Mitaine, have you no indication to give me which might put us on the track 
of this devourer of babes ?" 



THE PROPHET S PARADISF. 



93 



" None, my lord ; the monster appears and disappears as if by magic." 

"Well, be he fay, ogre, or vampire, I swear to Heaven I will deliver 

him into your hands. But until it is in our power to hang, draw, and quarter 

him, how shall we distinguish this monster, who wishes to devour you, by 



name : 



" Let us call him Croquemitaine ! " 

" So be it. Well, then, Croquemitaine shall be hanged : take my word 
for it." 

In the year 777 Charlemagne celebrated Easter at Nimegue. 




The lion and the assassin. 




Charlemagne at his capitularies. 



CHAPTER II. 



THE KING OF BEAUTY. 



ONE chronicle which I have discovered, and which is only known to 
me, assures us that Charlemagne was devotedly fond of children. It 
was his pleasure one day to call a couple of hundred of them together, in 
his royalty of Paderborn, and say to them — 

" You are the masters here, and my servants are at your disposal. 
Make hay of all the flowers in my gardens, and my gardeners shall assist 
you. Plan a dinner tremendous enough to kill my friend Guy of Burgundy 
with indigestion, and my cooks are under your orders. Ransack my illuminated 
books ; and if by chance you tear them, Eginhard will restore them so that 
it can't be detected. Break the silver strings of the queen's harp, and they 
shall be replaced before she suspects mischief. Command, bully, pillage, 
if you like, to your hearts' content. There is but one thing I forbid" — and 
Charles, knitting his great brows, spoke in a voice of thunder — " one thing 
I forbid, do you hear ? I forbid you to put yourselves out of the way in 
the slightest deeree." 

This speech was calculated to raise the wildest enthusiasm. In a moment 
the palace was ravaged. Mad with liberty, the little folks rushed hither 
and thither, pillaging everywhere at random, and to no purpose, like silly 
butterflies. The happiness of being free to do what they pleased was enough. 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 95 

It was indeed a deafening tumult, an unequalled outburst of jollity. They 
tore down the hangings ; they broke open the aviaries ; they smashed the 
statues ; they ransacked the sideboards ; they tore up the flowers — until, at 
last, by degrees, their impetuosity wore itself out. At the end of an hour 
the children, left to themselves, and having nothing more to destroy, could 
not invent any means of amusing themselves. 

When the Emperor returned he found his little visitors scattered 
throughout the palace, tired, idle, and melancholy. Charles called them all 
round him, and inquired if they were all enjoying themselves. The children 
hung down their heads without answering. He repeated the question with 
the same result. At last Mitaine, more confident than the rest, opened her 
mouth — 

" God-papa — not to keep anything from you — we don't know what to 
do, and were never so bored in all our lives." 

" My children," answered Charlemagne, " let this be a timely lesson to 
you. In pleasure, as in war, everything goes wrong without a clever com- 
mander. To play well, just as to fight well, you need a captain. Choose 
some one who shall be general of your games ; and, by my beard ! you will 
see that all will go well." 

" Beloved sire ! " said the children, trooping round him, " choose our 
general for us." 

" I will," said Charles; "but you must at least promise me to obey him 
whom I select." 

"We will! we will!" 

Charles perceived a fair boy of twelve in the crowd ; and, taking him 
gently by the ear, he led him out, and presented him to his small subjects. 

" Here is the little king I offer you. Obey him as you would me ; 
and as for you, Joel the Fair, will you take my advice ?" 

" I permit you to offer it, cousin," said the youngster, drawing himself 
up grandly. 

" Then, sire, since you deign to listen to me, accept this hint. Would 
you rule without discomfort, sleep without fearing some evil dream, and 
live at ease ?" 

" That would suit me nicely!" 

"Well, then, Joel the Fair, make yourself beloved ! " 

" We will take care to do so," said the boy, and immediately gave one 
of his subjects a rare buffet for leaning too familiarly on his royal shoulder. 

Charlemagne withdrew to rejoin Eginhard, Theodulph, Leidrade, and 
Alcuin, with whom he had shut himself up to work at his code of laws. 



9 6 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



But he had hardly been in his closet half an hour when a great hubbub 
was heard under the windows ; shouts, laughter, and cries were mingled 
together, and soon rose to such a pitch that the Emperor rose, curious to 
see what was the cause of the tumult, and went to the window. 

I can assure you, young people, that he was not a little astonished to 
see Mitaine fighting with a big boy, whom she had just thrown down and 
was kneeling upon. 

"So, Master Joel, you have a strange way of ruling," said Charles, 
opening the window. " Is this the way in which you ensure the peace of 
your dominions ? What is the meaning of this ? " 

The tumult ceased. Mitaine released her victim, and Joel advanced 
and addressed Charles. 

" I must remind you, sire, that you promised us uninterrupted liberty, 
and I have therefore some right to feel astonished when you interfere 




A wounded warrior. 



with my kingdom. What would your Majesty say if the King of Saragossa 
or of Persia were to question you about your doings in your own realm ? 
However, I have not forgotten that it is to you I owe my crown, and as 
I am a gallant prince, I will consent to answer your questions. We had 
determined to hold a tournament, and in order that it miffht be done in a 

o 

manner becoming my state, I first chose myself a court. It is composed 
of those whom you see yonder, half-inclined to quarrel over the scrag-end 
of a pie. I armed my knights — those are they on the lawn yonder, where 



THE PROPHET S PARADISE. 



97 



tlvey are now holding gallant encounters, which will prove to you I have 
chosen well. I improvised arms as I had invented knights. The ladies 
chose their gallants. Mitaine was unanimously elected Queen of Beauty, 
and she selected for her knight that big boy to whom she has just been 
giving such thumps. The trumpets sounded, and I took my place on the 
throne with a majesty that could not have failed to please you. The jousts 
commenced, and all went well enough. Riolet received a blow on the eye 
from Chariot, which lends quite a martial air to his visage ; Loys has 
had two teeth knocked out ; and Ode has left two handfuls of hair on the 
field. We did not expect it to stop here when Berart, the chosen cavalier 
of Mitaine, entered the lists. He presented himself proudly, and arrogantly 



fl£&7 




n^=~=- 



The lady and her knicht. 



defied Odille, who, without disturbing himself, gave him a kick on the 
shin, so dexterously applied that the unhappy youth lost heart and ran 
away. At this sight Mitaine was transported with anger, and jumping 
quickly down from her throne, she rolled the astonished and terrified Berart 
in the dust ; and then, turning on his opponent, upbraided him for his 
cowardice — in short, you can see what has befallen poor Odille. For my 
part, I abstained from placing any obstacle in the way of Mitaine's triumph. 
She was hitherto our queen by virtue of her rank and beauty : now she 
has won the title by her courage also " 

N 



98 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



Charlemagne laughed for seven minutes without stopping — so says the 
historian — as he had never laughed before. Then he called his god-child 
to him. 

" By my sceptre ! this is the conduct of a heroine, and you shall be 
well rewarded. It seems to me that a triumphant march would be about 

the right thing at this period. What thinks 
our brother Joel of the proposal ? " 

" Excellently said, sire. Let there be a 
march ot triumph." 

" There's only one thing that puzzles me. 
If we crown Mitaine for her valour, we shall 
have no Queen of Beauty." 

" By my beard, sire," said little Joel, 
stroking his smooth, twelve-year old chin, and 
aping Charles to the best of his ability — " by 
5^> my beard, sire, you are puzzled about trifles." 
Then he went in search of his friend 
Riolet, whose eye was getting blacker every 
minute. 

"What do you say to a King of Beauty 
like that ? It is but right that both sexes 
should have their part in the triumph as 
usual." 

" What a philosopher he is ! " said Charles, laughing till the tears ran 
down his face. " Let Oghris be brought — he is the only animal worthy to 
carry my courageous god-child. And you, rival and discomfited knights — 
it is to you, Berart, and you too, Odille, that I am speaking — go, conduct 
your conqueror in triumph. But now, what are we to do with the King 
of Beauty, brother ? " 

Joel, without answering, called on four knights to volunteer, and placed 
Riolet on their shoulders, the pain and confusion making him pull some 
very strange grimaces. In this fashion the procession set out amid loud 
laughter and cheering. 

In the evening Charles took Miton aside with him, and said, " Learn, 
my friend, that our Mitaine is not intended to wear a petticoat for long, 
A sword will suit her hand better than a needle. The secret attacks from 
which, thank Heaven, she has till now escaped unhurt may be renewed, 
and I would fain have her under my own guardianship. I have an offer 
to make to you, Count of Rennes. Give her to me for a page, and I will 




The Emperor laughs I 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



99 



have her brought up to the use of arms. I am greatly mistaken if I do 
not thus rear a staunch supporter of my son." 

The offer was accepted, and from the next day Mitaine, to her delight, 
took rank with the pages, whose male attire she adopted. 




jMitnine a [ih^o 



CHAPTER III. 



HOW THE EMTEROR CHARLEMAGNE SAW A VISION. 




c 



HARLEMAGNE only took repose 
in order to give others an oppor- 
tunity of resting. The chronicles tell us 
that he used to break off his slumbers four 
or five times during the night, rise, dress 
himself, and dispatch some matters of busi- 
ness. At Paderborn he occupied a chamber 
on the ground floor, and was often seized 
with the inclination to go down into the 
park, where, being alone with his thoughts, 
he used to allow himself to become lost in 
reverie. 

One beautiful night in the spring he 
perceived in the heavens what seemed like 
an immense causeway, paved with stars, 
which commenced above the Gulf of Fries- 
land and disappeared about the Galician frontier, passing over German)-, 
Aquitaine, Gascony, and Navarre. Little by little there seemed to him to 
glitter an unusual number of luminaries ; they increased in size, changed 
their forms, and began to move all in the same direction from the north- 
east to the south-west, and presently he beheld, moving across the 
heavens, crowds of armed warriors. He had mistaken for stars the glint 
of the moon upon their armour. For a whole hour troop succeeded troop ; 
the horses, excited to a mad ardour, galloped among the clouds, raising a 
dust of star-sparkles with their hoofs. Then all became motionless as at 
first. The night crew dark and silent, and Charles, lost in reflection, 
turned his eyes to earth. The sight he saw froze for some seconds the 
blood in his veins. It appeared like a moving light, which had assumed 
a human shape — a lingering sunbank forgotten by the twilight, and ani- 



CharlemagTie at 1 



us prayers 




CHARLEMAGNE S VISION". 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. IO3 

mated by some supernatural power. It advanced slowly, its outline showing 
clearly against the darkness of the park. At last the Emperor could dis- 
tinguish a form more beautiful than is granted to the mortal inhabitants of 
the globe. The figure spoke, and the air became laden with odours. Its 
voice hushed the songs of the nightingales, who perched on the boughs to 
listen. 

" My son, why have you forgotten me?" 

" My lord, who are you ? " inquired Charles. 

" I am St. James, the apostle, the brother of St. John the Evangelist." 

The Emperor fell on his knees. 

" You called upon me at the tournament of Fronsac, and promised 
me a chapel in exchange for Oliver's life, and I heard you. Oliver lives, 
and nine years have passed and still my bones lie in Galicia, forgotten by 
Christians and given up to Saracens. You have led your legions to the 
Roman shores, to the ocean, and to the Gulf of Friesland. One part of 
Europe only have you omitted to visit : it is that where my bones are 
laid, and to which you swore to me to make an expedition in my honour. 
I am sent to you from above. If Heaven makes you the most powerful 
among the mighty ones of earth, it is that you may accomplish its designs. 
Arise, then ; rescue my remains from profane hands, and open the route 
for pilgrims to my shrine. Arm your brave Franks, Lombards, Saxons, 
and Austrians, and march straight for the Saracens of Spain. I shall be 
with you in danger, and by-and-by you will find me ready to conduct you 
to Heaven." 

The vision vanished, Two hours later Eginhard, coming to seek 
Charlemagne, found him still upon his knees in the park praying, with 
tears in his eyes. 




Munnl'b nurhtiiiare. 



CHAPTER IV. 



HOW KING MAKSILI.US SAW A VISION. 



A SHORT time previous to the foregoing events, Marsillus had a vision 
at Saragossa. 

Come with me now to Spain, my young friends. Do not murmur, for 
there exists nothing so lovely as Spain, unless it be " the terrestrial para- 
dise," of which 1 am not in a position to form an opinion. 

There the sandal-wood, the spikenard, the saffron, the ebony, and the 
clove, the most extraordinary flowers, the most delicious fruits, all grow wild. 
The streams prattle more gaily there than anywhere else, joyfully sprinkling 
with dewy drops the ever-verdant banks. On all sides trees, clothed with 
luxuriant foliage, provide shelter for the most musical birds in the world. 
The choir numbers the tomtit, the nightingale, the phoenix, the turtle-dove, 
and a thousand others. Must I, at the risk of making your mouths water, 
mention a few of the fruits of this marvellous land ? What do you say to 
the fig, the grape, the pomegranate, the almond, the lemon, the pine-apple, 
the olive, and the orange ? And the flowers ! — clumps of roses everywhere, 
lilies, chrysanthemums ! Here, grow ox-eyes ; there, spring violets ; yonder 
bloom the narcissus and the balsam. The cool brooklets, abundant and 
limpid as glass, flow over pebbles as bright as crystal and topaz. There 
are gardens like those of Persia, minarets like those of Bagdad, a blue sky 
like that of no other part of the world. The nights are so delicious, one 
is sorry to go to sleep. Everywhere are seen wealth, beauty, joy, and 
plenty ! Such is Spain. 

All this, however, was ruined by the presence of the Saracens. 

Marsillus was taking a nap. He was lying on cushions of priceless 
material. The pavilion in which he had sought repose was of stained ivory, 
inlaid with gold. In the midst a joyous fountain diffused coolness around 
it ; while an incense, compounded of musk, ambergris, and camphor, made 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



I05 



into a paste with distilled otto of roses, burning in marble bowls, rilled the 
air with sweetness. 

All at once the daylight turned sickly pale. A chill like that of the 
tomb succeeded the agreeable coolness^ and the perfumes yielded to sickening 




The ghost of Murad. 



odours like those of the grave. The flowers faded ; all that was brightest 
became dull and tarnished ; and a corpse came and seated itself beside the 
King of Saragossa. It scarcely retained the human form, being made up 
of shreds and rags of flesh, and rendered only the more hideous by the gay 
robes in which it was enveloped. 

o 



106 THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 

"My father!" said the corpse, "have you, then, forgotten me?" 

Marsillus opened his eyes, uttered a shriek, and, after gazing round 
vainly for some way of escape, sank back motionless, with haggard eyes 
and bristling locks, and bathed in a cold sweat. 

" Is it thus you receive your son, after a separation of ten years ? 
Open your arms to me, beloved monarch, for I hunger for your embrace ! " 

On seeing Murad approaching him, the terrified Marsillus sprang to 
his feet, and strove to get out of his way, but in vain. The corpse caught 
him in its arms, folded him to its bosom, which cracked in a ghastly way 
with the force of the hug, and covered with cold and clammy kisses the 
face and white locks of the King of Saragossa, on which they left gory 
stains ! 

" Leave me — depart ! " shrieked the old man. " What have I done to 
you, or what would you have me do ? " 

" I would be avenged on Roland of France." 

'• I will avenge you, Murad. But now leave me, if you do not wish 
me to perish on the spot." And Marsillus, putting forth all his strength, 
freed himself from the embraces of his son, and rushed to the other end 
of the chamber. 

" In truth, my lord, you are not altered. As I left you nine years 
ago I find you now. You have just asked me two questions. I will 
answer them. You have asked what I would have you do ? To that I 
answer, Avenge my death ! I would see this accursed Roland and his 
friends punished in a way that should never be forgotten by the rest of 
mankind. I am astonished that so affectionate a father and so just a 
kingf should have been so long thinking' about veno-eance. Your other 
question was, ' What had you done to me ? ' Those words, by the 
Prophet ! should have died away on your lips ; but since your conscience 
does not assist your memory, I will take its place. You do not question, 
of course, my dear lord, that death reveals everything to us ? One has 
reason to complain of it not so much because it takes us from this world, as 
because it places the past before us in naked truth — brings in review 
before us all our errors and our beliefs — and teaches one, for instance, 
that one has had such a father as you." 

Marsillus dug his nails into the wall, against which he had placed his 
back, as if he would fain scoop out for himself some place of refuge. 

Murad continued : — " While I was a child, happily for me, I did not 
occupy any place in your life ; but from the hour when you saw me return 
the conqueror of the lioness and her cubs, you began to keep an eye 



THE PROPHET S PARADISE. 



IO7 



on me. I grew up under your personal superintendence, and if the queen, 
Hadrama, my mother, had not at times pressed me to her bosom, I believe 
1 should have become a wild beast, and not a man. My name became 
famous ; the prodigies of my valour, my wisdom, and bravery won you 
many kingdoms. 1 11 a short time I had doubled your empire. Your jealousy 
increased with my fame, until, unable to look undazzled at the glory of my 
renown, you determined to make away with me. From that moment I 
had to encounter a thousand plots — a thousand treacheries, over which I 
triumphed by a miracle, but of which I never once suspected the origin." 

Marsillus would fain have denied this, but his voice stuck in his 
parched throat. 

" Your slaves one day found a huge snake, a venomous monster, 
which they at once slew. It was a female, and would have left twenty 
little ones to lament her loss if you had 
not considerately ordered the destruction 
of the whole family. The father alone 
escaped. Once in possession of this little 
stock of poison, you asked yourself how 
you could best dispose of it, and being 
neither selfish nor thoughtless — you see, 
I do you the fullest justice — you were 
not long in remembering me. Your 
creatures took the twenty young snakes 
and scattered them from their nest to 
my room, where they concealed the 
mother's body under my bed. As 
soon as night came, the male snake 
traced from corpse to corpse the path 
you had so obligingly mapped out for 
him, and, full of fury, arrived almost at 
the bed where I was sleeping. I will 
spare you the recital of what followed, for it would wring your heart. Ail 
I have to observe is, that on my making my appearance before you next 
day, you knitted your brows; you were even put out when I laid at your 
feet the two serpents, one only of which owed its destruction to me. It 
was fortunate for you that on the previous night I had struck one of your 
slaves, for it was at once decided that he had attempted to revenge him- 
self on me, and, in your anxiety to see me righted, you sliced his head 
off before he had time to utter a word in defence." 




The King's revenge 



io8 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 




Murad's maddened steed. 



Marsillus sank on his knees. 

'• I shall only briefly recall to you the horse, which, maddened with 
some noxious drench, almost leaped with me into a bottomless abyss. 

Thanks to Allah, I did 
not lose my self-pos- 
session, and gave the 
animal such a blow be- 
hind the ear with my 
fist that he dropped life- 
less, sending me rolling 
within a few paces ot 
the gulf which you had 
intended for my grave. 
Next day, on rising, I beheld a startling sight. You had, in your stern 
sense of justice, ordered the impalement of all my faithful grooms, who 
were devoted to me, and you replaced them by crea- 
tures of your own." 

Marsillus hid his face in his hands. 
" Finally, after ten years spent in futile efforts to get 
rid of me, you determined to send me to the French 
tournament, where I met my death. Now I might 
certainly desire, and insist, that you should pay dearly 
for your past vagaries ; but I ofier you pardon, and only 
ask one thing in return ; but that I must and will have." 
Marsillus raised his head. 

" Angoulaffre, Priamus, Corsablix, and all the other 
victims who shared my fate, speak to you with my 
lips. We demand the death of Roland and the knights 
of Charlemagne. Swear to avenge us ! " 
" I swear ! " murmured the old man. 
"Give me your hand on it!" And Murad strode 
towards him. But at that Marsillus shouted so lustily, 
that his guards rushed in. They found the King 
stretched on the ground, his robes dishevelled, and his 
lips uttering disconnected sentences. 

" Don't leave me ! — don't leave ! " he cried, drachma- 
himself to the feet of the guard. " I have seen Murad! He calls for 
vengeance! His kisses have chilled my very marrow. You won't leave 
me? — promise me you won't! If you do, I'll have you all put to death!" 




Impalement. 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



IO9 



The most experienced physicians were at once sent for. They agreed 
that His Highness was suffering from brain fever. But as nobody had the 
courage to convey this intelligence to His Majesty, no attempt was made 
to cure him ; to which circumstance he owed his recovery. 

By degrees the dreadful scene vanished from his mind, and in a month 
he had almost forgotten it. 

"Go to war at my age!" said the King to himself. "What nonsense! 
I have the finest kingdom in the world. Charlemagne leaves me alone : 
why should I provoke him? Not I, i' faith ! I must 
have had a bad dream, and I must mind I don't get 
an unpleasant waking-up by going to tweak Charle- 
magne by the beard. Sleep sweetly, Prince Murad, 
and let me live in peace ! " 

From that time Marsillus never passed a day 
without receiving a visit from his son. He had a 
guard constantly in his presence, but it was no use. 
Then he tried to discover some means of ridding 
himself of this frightful spectre ; and, at length, one 
night determined to await its approach resolutely, 
yataghan in hand. 

Murad came as usual, and approached his father; 
but he, with four blows of his sword, sliced off the 
head, legs, and arms of the corpse. Then he 
breathed more freely. But the head immediately 
burst out laughing, while the right arm politely 
picked up the weapon Marsillus had let fall, and 
handed it to him. 

" Take this yataghan, sire ; it is one I wore for a long time — the one, 
in short, you gave me as a boy. Have you forgotten it?" 

The King, more driven to his wits' end than ever, tremblingly flung his 
son's limbs into a mat, and tied the four corners together. Then he ran 
at lull speed into the garden, accompanied by roars of laughter from the 
head, which did not cease to move as he bore it. Arrived at the end of 
the park, he dug six deep holes ; put the head in the first, the right arm in 
the second, the left arm in the third, the right leg in the fourth, the left leg 
in the fifth, and the trunk in the sixth. Then he threw the earth in upon 
them, and ran in again, without daring to look behind him. 

Marsillus by this means gained a month's respite. But, at last, the 
Sultana one day begged him to accompany her to the bottom of the 




Maisillus meditates. 



I IO 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



grounds, where she had discovered some unknown description of flowers, 
which gave out an odour so sweet, it was almost impossible to tear yourself 
away from them when once you had gone near them. The King refused 
with such evident horror, that the surprised Hadrama only persisted the 
more, and he had to give way. As he approached nearer, his blood froze 
in his veins; his eyes were blinded with mist; his teeth chattered horribly. 
Walk slowly as he would, he must at last reach the terrible spot where 
his son's remains were concealed. 

On arriving there, the Sultana said, "See how thick the turf is! Did 
you ever see anything like it ?" 




Marsillus with MuradV bones. 



To the terrified Marsillus it seemed as if human hair was growing- and 
covering the ground on which he trod. 

" Is there anything more delicious than the scent of these flowers ?" 

But Marsillus could only smell the foul odours of a grave. 

" See what flocks of birds perch in the branches ! Hark ! how sweetly 
they sing ! " 

But Marsillus seemed but to hear a laugh that came from under the 
ground. He saw that the leaves of this strange tree were shaped like human 
tongues, and when the breeze shook them, low voices murmured — 

" Revered sovereign, avenge my death ! " 

The King of Saragossa fell on his knees and to his prayers. The 
bi<>- tears ran down his white beard. 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE, 



I I I 



" Sow sin, and you will reap remorse ! " he exclaimed, with his eyes 
fixed on the earth. 

The next day he called together his nobles, and announced to them 
his intention of avenging- the death of Murad! 







Marsillus art MuracTs grave. 




The delighted Saracens. 



CHAPTER V. 



THE TWO ALCALDES^ 

ARSILLUS commenced his address in the following words: — 

" May Allah enlighten you, and shed his glory on you, for I 
have assembled you to a council. Listen to this brief recital, and give me 
your opinion on it. 

" A lion, full of youth and strength, was gaping and yawning enough 
to put his jaws out of joint. He had done nothing for the day, but yet, 
wholly given up to idleness, he stretched himself on the warm sand, 
roasting first one side and then the other in the hot rays of the sun. 
An ant happened to pass close by him, painfully dragging a small fly. 
Seeing such great labour bestowed on so small an object, the lion burst 
out laughing. ' It is not very becoming in you to make a jest of me,' 
said the toiler, without ceasing from his task ; ' I am weak, but I make 



THE PROPHET S PARADISE. 



113 



full use of the little strength Heaven has given me, while you, who might 
do anything, are giving way to slumber before you have earned it by 
fatigue. Leave off smiling, for you are in the wrong. I am stronger and 
braver than you. Remember, ' a busy ant does more than a dozing lion.' 

" Mahomet, who was leaning on a cloud, and happened to hear them, 
greatly approved of the ant's remarks. 

" By the divinity of the Ka'abah, by the shrine of Mecca, are not we 
like this lion ? We pass our lives in sloth and luxury, while the ruler of 
the Franks is hard at work extending his dominions. The clay before 
yesterday he was in Aquitaine— yesterday he was in Lombardy — to-day he 
is in Saxony — to-morrow he may be in our kingdom. But do you, the 
sons of those whom Mussa led along the banks of the Rhone and the 
Saone — do you feel in- 
clined to sit still and 



wait his coming ? If, 
gorged with prosperity, 
you have forgotten the 
past, the people of (^ 
Nimes and Aries, of 
Narbonne and Bor- 
deaux, of Toulouse 
and Chalons, do not 
forget it when they 
gaze on their ruined 




Mahomet's approving smile. 



cities, their desolated 
cathedrals, their overthrown fortresses. Children of Alsamah, of Abdel- 
Rahman, Ambissa, and Marsufle, have at the descendants of Charles 
Martel, Eudes, and Pepin ! If these victorious names do not make your 
hearts leap, will they quail at the recollection of our disasters at Poitiers ? 
The bones of our sires enrich French soil — the harvests the Franks reap 
have been fattened by the blood of our bravest, which fed the fields. 
They are ours, but we have been robbed of them. Let us go and win 
them back again ! " 

The assembly received this harangue with terrific cheering. Shouts, 
observations, threats, and warnings were mixed in such inextricable confusion 
that Marsillus did not know what to listen to. He remarked, however, 
that two of his emirs held themselves apart and maintained silence. When 
the tumult had subsided, he beckoned to them to draw near. 

" Why do you keep aloof instead of sharing in the general enthusiasm ? 

p 



ii4 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



Answer, Abiathar — answer, Ibn al Arrabi. You are generally more lively 
when there is a prospect of war." 

" Sire," said Abiathar, the Alcalde of Huesca, " I grieve to behold you 
undertaking an enterprise which will bring you no credit." 
A threatening murmur ran through the assembly. 

" This is a fearful responsibility you take on yourself," said, in his turn, 
Soleyman Jaktan Ibn al Arrabi, Alcalde of Saragossa. " Is it not possible 
you may have reason to repent having called down upon yourself the wrath 
of the King of the Franks ? " 

This speech caused such an outburst of anger, that some of Marsillus's 
knights drew their swords and threatened the lives of the two emirs. 

"Verily, I feel no gratitude to you," said the King of Saragossa. "I 
hope I may attribute the cowardly expressions you have just uttered to 
your increasing years ! " 

" In spite of our age, we lack neither strength nor valour," said 
Abiathar, who turned a ghastly white with sheer rage; "and we prove that, 
I think sufficiently, by having the courage to talk reason to madmen ! " 
Several chiefs rushed at them with drawn swords. 

" We don't in the least lack strength," 
said Ibn al Arrabi, as he seized one of the 
most violent of his assailants by the throat, 
and flung him twenty paces away. " Any 
one who doubts it can easily try the 
experiment." 

Marsillus descended from his throne, 
and placed himself between the contending 
parties. 

" Do you," he said to his knights, 
" reserve your ardour for a more fitting 
occasion. I thank you for having proved 
that I was right in relying on your sup- 
port. As for you, Abiathar, and you, Ibn 
al Arrabi, I feel obliged to you for your frankness. But your prophetic 
powers will, of course, have enabled you to guess that I shall confide the 
defence of Huesca and Saragossa to others. Having, then, no office under 
the crown, you will be enabled to hear without regret the plans about 
which you are so full of caution and prudence." 

With that he sfave them the signal to withdraw. The two emirs bowed and 
departed. One month after they presented themselves at the Court of France. 




Marsillus enraged. 



CHAPTER VI. 




A BL 

r\ib. 



The escaping emirs 



CHARLEMAGNE IN SPAIN. 

ATHAR and 
Ibn al Arrabi found 
Charlemagne at Pader- 
born, where he imme- 
diately accorded them 
an audience. 

" Sire," said Abiathar, 
" we come, accompanied 
by a hundred followers, 
to do homage and service to you. The report of your unrivalled glory has 
reached even us, and we have arrived at the conclusion that he who accom- 
plishes so many great things must be the favourite of Heaven. We have 
studied in secret the teachings of your faith, and we have found in them the 
springs of truth and virtue. They have, in short, convinced us, and inspired 
us with an ardent wish to become Christians. We would then strive to make 
proselytes, and, trampling the crescent under foot, would raise the cross on 
high. Martyrdom in our case almost preceded baptism. Marsillus is in 
pursuit of us, and has commanded that when taken we shall be subjected to 
the most hideous tortures. But Heaven has been our aid. We have escaped 
the executioners who were on our track, and here we are at the feet of the 
most powerful monarch in the Christian world, asking of him to baptise us ! " 
These falsehoods made the greatest impression on Charles. 
"We come, moreover, sire," said Ibn al Arrabi, "to announce to you 
that Marsillus is busily preparing a religious war, and is ready to invade 
your realms. We do not bring, it is true, the ordinary gifts of envoys — 
gold, jewels, and fine merchandise ; but we do what is better, we bring you 
Spain as a present. The chief people of Huesca, Valentia, and Saragossa 
are yours. These cities are devoted to us, and wait but our signal to tear 
down the crescent and erect the cross. We announce ourselves from this 
moment to be vassals of the Crown of France, and we undertake to show 



I 1 6 THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 

to you the only four practicable passes of the Pyrenees which exist — those 
of Barcelona, Puycerda, Pampeluna, and Toulouse. The Christians in Aragon, 
Castille, and Leon, are ripe for revolt. At the first hint they will descend 
from the inaccessible fastnesses in which they find shelter, to join your 
triumphant armies. In Asturia and Catalonia the standard of the cross is 
ready to be displayed. Call together, therefore, a large army, and hasten 
to anticipate the measures of those who wish to take you by surprise." 

Charlemagne was so delighted that he clasped the two emirs in his 
arms, and kissed them on the cheek and chin. Subsequently he presented 
them to his peers, knights, and bishops, and invited a new recital of the 
intelligence they had brought him. They acceded to his request. 

" It is St. James who has sent them," said the Emperor; adding, "he 
shall not have to wait, I swear by Our Lady ! " 

The war had been resolved upon more than a month, when the two 
alcaldes arrived at Paderborn. They soon beheld the forces which Charles 
had called together marching in from all quarters. 

You must know, my young friends, that the nobles who held fiscal 
territory — that is to say, belonging to the Crown lands — were bound to hold 
themselves always in readiness for warfare, to present themselves at the first 
summons, with their contingents of men-at-arms, at the place where the 
sovereign ordered them to assemble. Charlemagne had never made 
such gigantic preparations as he did for this Spanish expedition. He 
called together the whole of his faithful vassals of Neustria, Burgundy, 
Austrasia, Germany, Bavaria, Septimania, and Provence ; he even 
summoned the Lombards, although they had only just been reduced to 
submission. 

It was the beginning of spring, a time which the Emperor thought 
favourable for commencing his campaign. He set out for his country 
estate of Casseneuil, in Poitou, whence, after celebrating Easter, he marched 
to Spain at the head of the most wonderful army he had ever led. 

The two Saracens, who were present at the inspection of this vast 
force, were astounded at it. There passed before them two hundred 
thousand soldiers, armed in a hundred different styles, according to the 
fashion of the country from which they came, — and they had come from 
every part of Europe. Then followed the machines of war — towers, 
balistae, onagri,* scorpions, and catapults. Next rode the paladins, the 
nobles and knights of the realm, followed by the bishops, priests, and 

* Onagri were machines which discharged large stones. Scorpions flung showers of arrows 
darts, and small missiles. 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. I I 7 

clerks of the Chapel Royal. When Charlemagne appeared, clad in his 
panoply of war, the Saracens shook with terror. 

" All is over with Spain," said they, shedding abundant tears. " What 
people, what cities, what fortresses could resist such armies ? An iron 
tempest is about to burst over the heads of the children of the Prophet. 
What could we do in this world after that ? Let us return and die in 
the land that eave us birth." 

And the Saracens, without waiting to see the end of the spectacle, 
rode oft" at full gallop. At a later period they were recognised among the 
slain before the walls of Saragossa. The Emperor divided his army into 
two columns. One, consisting of the Lombards and Austrasians, marched 
from Xarbonne under the command of Count Bernard, entered Spain at 
Perpignan, marched along the coast to Barcelona, and overran Catalonia as 
far as the Ebro. The second column, composed of the flower of the 
army, knights and nobles, and commanded by the Emperor in person, 
crossed the Pyrenees from Gascony and Navarre, and sat down before 
Pampeluna, whither in his turn came Count Bernard. 

The siege lasted three months, and was carried on with great losses 
on both sides, until one day Charlemagne, being at prayers, petitioned 
Heaven to allow him, since he had entered Spain for the glory of the 
Christian faith and the destruction of the Saracen race, to take this strong- 
hold of the infidels, which he would purify, and where sacred chants 
should rise instead of incense offered up to false deities. " Saint James," 
said the Emperor, " if it was really you who appeared to me — if I have 
rightly obeyed the orders you gave to me — intercede for me that I may 
win this city." 

He rose, comforted in his mind, ordered an assault, and on that day 
Pampeluna fell. One hundred thousand Saracens received baptism ; all 
who wished to persist in error were put to death. 

The Franks marched alone the banks of the Ebro and laid sieo-e to 
Saragossa, which made as stout a resistance as it could ; but it was fated to 
fall, as Pampeluna had done. The Saracens, growing alarmed at Charle- 
magne's success, submitted. Alcaldes and emirs came in from all sides 
to render homage to the Frank monarch ; even those who could not come 
sent him hostages and tribute. 

Charles overran the whole of the north of Spain with his victorious 
army. From Catalonia to Galicia, and extending to the line of the Ebro, 
he was everywhere received by, rather than took possession of, cities and 
fortresses. Arriving at Compostella, he paid a devout visit to the sepulchre 



Il8 THE PROPHET'S PARADISE. 

of St. James, according to his promise, and had baptised there those of 
the Galicians who had forsaken the faith of their forefathers for the service 
of Mahomet. He established priests of the Holy Church in all the chief 
towns of Spain, and assembled in the month of July a council of sixty 
bishops and a parliament of peers, by whom it was decided that all the 
archbishops, bishops, kings, and princes of Spain and Galicia, present or 
future, should recognise the authority of the Archbishop of Compostella. 
The church was dedicated to St. James, Turpin. officiating. It was 
endowed by means of a tax: of four deniers per annum imposed upon the 
innkeepers, and was released from all feudal service. The King also 
declared it to be his wish that all the bishops of the country should be 
ordained, and all the kings crowned, by the archbishop of the diocese. 

In this way the King discharged his obligation to the saint. This 
done, he pursued his route to the southern extremity of Spain, now known 
as Cape Finisterre. There, finding he could advance no further, he flung 
his lance into the sea, and returned thanks to Heaven and St. James for 
having aided him to bring his expedition to a successful issue. The gold 
and silver which the Emperor brought back with him from Spain enabled 
him to restore and found many churches — to wit, one to Our Lady at 
Aix-la-Chapelle, and also of St. James; a second of St. James at Beziers ; 
a third at Toulouse; a fourth in Gascony, between the village of St. Jean 
de Sorgeat and Ax ; and, finally, one at Paris, between the Seine and 
Montmartre, of which nothing remains but the lofty tower known as the 
St. James's Shambles. The Emperor divided his new provinces into two 
Marches, called those of Septimania and Gascony. The first, which consisted 
of Catalonia proper, had its capital at Barcelona ; the second, embracing 
Navarre and Aragon, had Saragossa as its seat of government. To Louis 
of Aquitaine, Charlemagne's son, was committed the task of keeping the 
country in submission as far as the Ebro. 




' Pass on 1" 




The one-eyed assembly. 



CHAPTER VII. 



THE TRAP. 



MITAINE had followed Charlemagne into Spain. She was now so 
skilful in the use of her sword that her want of strength was not 
noticeable. She rode well, and easily bore the weight of hauberk and suit 
of mail, casque and greaves of steel. She only needed wings to be so like, 
as to deceive the spectator, one of the armed cherubs who accompany the 
Archangel Michael. 

Charlemagne, who had not forgotten the attacks of which Mitaine had 
more than once been the object, gave her a command of twenty men, 
under pretence of rewarding her for her good services. It was, in reality, 
a body-guard which he established about her. 

From this moment, then, please to picture to yourselves our fair young 
friend marching proudly at the head of her twenty veterans. 

The precaution was a wise one. It happened, however, that Mitaine 
one day wandered forth beyond the bounds of the camp. Night overtook 
her in a forest, which, however lovely by daylight, was not at all an 
inspiriting spot at night. She dismounted in the midst of a glade, where 
she resolved to await the return of day rather than venture further. It 
was so dark that the Old Gentleman himself — sharp-sighted as he is — could 
not have seen his tail before him or behind him. 

Mitaine stretched herself on the sward, sleeping with one eye and 
waking; with the other. Before long the moon showed herself above the 
horizon, but her light could scarcely penetrate the thick foliage, and only 
lighted imperfectly some portions of the thicket. 



120 THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 

Mitaine heard approaching footsteps, and was instantly on the alert. 
" What a fool I am ! " she said to herself, after listening for a few seconds ; 
" it is my horse trampling on the broken branches." Again she heard it : 
it was impossible for her to close her eyes. All was now silent, but the 
silence alarmed her more than the noise. Three times she called her steed 
■ — " Vaillant, Vaillant, Vaillant ! " A distant neigh was the only response. 
She rose and went on tiptoe to inspect the spot where she had tied up 
her horse, but her horse was gone. Then she fancied she could make out 
under one of the trees a human form — a little further off another, — a third — in 
short, she counted eight. She saw them move, and come towards her in a 
circle, which narrowed every moment. She drew her sword, and rushed on 
them ; but soon found herself seized by powerful hands, which grasped her 
like a vice. Nevertheless she did not lose heart, but began to fight and 
struggle, to bite and hit out to such effect that, if the night had been 
less dark, one misfht have seen a writhincr mass of human forms struecfline 
fearfully. Every time when they thought they held her prisoner she con- 
trived to break loose. It was no easy work for the attackers or the attacked, 
for none of them could see a bit. One would have declared it was blind 
men quarrelling over their booty. 

" Why don't you use your weapons ?" said a sinister voice. The speaker 
was merely a spectator of the combat. 

" It is easier to say use your weapons than to do it," answered one 
of the ruffians. " One can't see a bit, and the young demon goes on so 
that we don't know how to tret hold of her." 

Mitaine continued to lay about her on all sides until one of her 
opponents cried out, with a fierce oath, " Curse the girl ! she has stabbed 
me in the eye ! " And the wounded man in his fury, listening only to the 
voice of rage, struck out wildly and hit one of his comrades, where- 
upon ensued a general melee, of which the young girl availed herself to 
escape. 

" Farewell, Croquemitaine ! " she cried ; " he will have to be swift of 
foot who overtakes me in running." But instead of making her escape she 
climbed into a tree, and hid herself among the branches. 

"Follow her! I swear by the Evil One that I'll hang every one of 
you if she escapes ! " 

Mitaine now heard her enemies groping among the underwood, trying 
the holly and juniper bushes with the points of their swords, until at last 
the sound died away, and she heard no more. However, she determined 
on remaining in her place of concealment until dawn. 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 121 

" I shall know how to recognise you this time, Master Croquemitaine ! 
One of your fellows has lost an eye, and I have noticed that they have a 
Westphalian accent," said the brave girl, as she reached the ground. " If 
Heaven conducts me safely to the camp of my royal sponsor, you shall be 
uncloaked, I will promise you on my faith ! " 

She knelt down, breathed her matin prayer, and resumed her 
way, trusting to Providence to recover her right path. When she had 
walked for about an hour she heard distant shouts, and the blast of a 
horn. 

" Who can tell what I may have to encounter now ? Prudence is not 
cowardice ; so I had better conceal myself, and reconnoitre." 

Again Mitaine climbed into a tree, and watched. Before long she 
saw a party of soldiers approaching, exploring the forest, beating the bushes, 
and shouting to the full extent of their lungs. She then heard her own 
name, and recognised her father, who, in great alarm, headed the searchers 
in person. She was not long in descending from her perch, I assure you. 
How delighted she was to fling herself into Miton's arms! 

For a minute they occupied themselves in exchanging embraces and 
broken sentences, to which neither thought of listening, and which had to 
be begun afresh as soon as the first outbreak of joy was over. The Count 
of Rennes related his fears at not seeing his beloved child return on the 
previous evening, his alarm when Vaillant returned home alone, and how 
he had spent the night in searching the forest. Having said thus much, he 
allowed his words to give place to renewed caresses. 

When they were once more on the move, Mitaine informed her 
father of the dangers she had escaped. She also recited her adventures 
to Charles. 

The Emperor listened attentively, and then said to Miton — 

" Count of Rennes, send out in every direction, and bid them bring 
before me, dead or alive, all the one-eyed men within ten leagues round." 

Bodies of cavalry were dispatched in every quarter, and acted with 
such vigour, that by the next morning early forty blind men awaited His 
Majesty's inspection. They were of all races — Franks, Jews, and Saracens. 
Charles examined them carefully ; and when he had rejected those who 
seemed to him to have been blind for a long period, or those whose presence . 
in camp for two days past was established on good evidence, he remarked, 
with great astonishment, that there only remained ten men in the livery of 
the Count of Mayence, and that they were all recently wounded in the 
right eye. The emperor knit his brows, and sent for Ganelon. 



o 



122 THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 

" Prithee, friend, can you explain to me how it is that all your men here 
have become blind since yesterday, and all of the same eye, too ? " 

" Nothing can be more simple. Because I am short-sighted." 

"You dare jest with me!" shouted the Emperor, with a voice of 
thunder. 

" Heaven preserve me if I should 1 " said the count, with a low reverence. 
" Your Majesty will perceive that there is nothing in this at all unnatural. 
Having very weak sight, I am always seeking for anything that will strengthen 
it. I have tried all remedies, and have found only quacks in France. One 
physicked me ; another bled me ; a third invoked the devil ; a fourth sent 
me to take the waters at Aixda-Chapelle " 

" Speak no evil against those waters ! " interposed Charlemagne, who 
frequently had recourse to them, and believed in them firmly. 

" Some put the bones of St. Ursula on my eyes ; others wished 
me to remain for five years in complete darkness. I had quite given 
up all hope of any good results, when chance flung in my way a 
Saracen more learned than Esculapius, or even Hermes Trismegistus 
himself. This wise person explained to me that in all things it was 
necessary to make the most of your powers ; that I had only a certain 
strength of vision to dispose of, and that in dividing it between my two 
eyes I employed it without profit. It would be better for me to have 
one eye that saw as well as two, than two eyes which only saw as well 
as one; and he recommended me to have one eye put out. His discourse 
appeared to me so full of logic and common sense, that I gave him his 
freedom." 

"But that does not explain " 

" One moment's patience, sire. The remedy appeared to me good, 
but extreme ; and I confess I hesitated, for fear of committing a mistake 
which would be irreparable. It was then that I sent for these objects that 
you observe : they all complained of being short-sighted. I deprived them 
of their right eyes " 

"And ?" 

" They can't see any better now than you and I ! " 

" Speak for yourself, count. If you are short-sighted, I have a tolerably 
keen vision. It would serve you right, by St. James! if I were to have both 
your eyes put out for telling me such absurd nonsense. Now, I am neither 
an Esculapius nor a Hermes Trismegistus ; but I am going to prescribe a 
remedy which will do you a very great deal of good. You will start, with 
your one-eyed warriors, for Aquitaine, where the air is said to be very 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



123 



beneficial to the sight, and you will take a letter for me to your friend Wolf, 
and brine me back an answer." 

Charlemagne thereupon turned his back on the count, who set out the 
same night for Toulouse. 




The meeting of Miton and MHaine 











The pages' archery practice. 



CHAPTER VIII. 



HOW ROLAND UNDERTOOK TO CARRY SARAGOSSA BY STORM. 

IF, my young friends, I have for some few chapters omitted mention of 
Roland, don't jump at the conclusion that he did not distinguish himself 
during the war in Spain, for he took the most notable part in it, as you may 
judge for yourselves. 

After three months spent in fruitless attacks, Saragossa still stood as 
strong as it was on the first day of the siege. The catapults and balistre 
had become disabled without making the slightest impression on the ramparts. 
The scaling parties had been repulsed, and the stormers, hacked in pieces 
with daggers and lances, had been flung from the walls into the fosse, or 
fell among the flames of the raging fires — for burning pitch had been flung 
over the walls until it had covered them with a coating of bitumen as 
impenetrable as iron. 

Roland lost patience. " Prepare everything for the storm to-morrow," 
said he to Charlemagne. "In one hour the breach shall be made!" And 
he descended into the fosse with no other arms, offensive or defensive, than 
Durandal and his shield. 

" Whither goes your nephew, sire ?" said Turpin to Charlemagne, follow- 
ing Roland with his eyes. "Is he mad, or tired of life?" 

" I don't know what he is going to do, but he has bidden me have 
all ready for the assault, saying that within an hour the breach will be 
made." 

" He will do it, then, sire, as he has said it ; and, by my faith ! I am 
grateful to him, for we are beginning to grow mouldy here." 



THE PROPHET S PARADISE. 



125 



\In/> 



Charles mounted his horse, and began to make his dispositions for the 
assault. The Saracen sentries on guard on the rampart hardly took any 
notice of the single warrior who approached the city ; but, hearing a great 
noise, they leant over and 
saw Roland, who was 
hammering at the wall 
with repeated strokes of 
the pommel of Durandal. 
The Saracens laughed, 
and asked one another 
what the idiot wanted. 

" Shall we smash 
him ? " said one of them, 
preparing to roll a huge 
stone over the rampart. 

"What for?" said 
another. " Is there any 
reason to be afraid of 
him ? Shouldn't you like 
to know what he has 
come here to do ? " 

Curiosity is the worst 
of advisers. The senti- 
nels exposed themselves 
in order to see better, and 
four arrows struck them 
in the face. It was the 
hour of target - practice 
with the pages of Charle- 



" I am afraid this is 
likely to make the infi- 
dels squint !" said Mitaine, 
choosing a new arrow. 




The wall begins to yawn. 



Roland, heedless of all 
that was passing around 
him, continued his work of destruction. The wall began at last to yawn, 
and the knight to smile, delighted at his success. By-and-by the tremendous 
hammering excited the curiosity of the besieged, and some of the soldiers, 



126 



THE PRoniET S PARADISE. 



seeing the sentinels leaning over the ramparts and never stirring, were 
anxious to discover what was so engrossing their attention. They in their 
turn leant over, and each received an arrow in his ear. 

"What do you think of those ear-rings?" said Mitaine, laughing. 
" Were ever such lovely trinkets seen ? Saint Eloi, the goldsmith, could 
not have fashioned finer ! " 

During this time Roland redoubled his force. A rent thirty cubits 
long began to threaten the wall with ruin. Marsillus, who was passing in 
the neighbourhood, felt the earth tremble beneath his feet. Every blow of 
the pommel of Durandal made the whole quarter of the city shake to its 
foundation. 

" So, then," said the King of Saragossa, " these wretches have brought 
new engines of war against us ! Why has no one told me of this ? Ebrechin, 
go see what it is, and hasten back with intelligence of what is passing." 

The earth continued to quake, and several houses began to tremble to 
their fall. 

" It is not an ordinary balista at work there," said Marsillus. " None 
of those in use now can deliver such hard blows." 

But hardly had the King finished his sentence when a mosque fell in 
ruins within a hundred paces of where he stood. Then a still more awful 
noise froze his blood with terror. The breach was made : Roland had kept 
his word. 




The fall ol Saragossa. 




mxmib 



The slumbering Prophet. 



CHAPTER IX. 



A TRIP TO MAHOMET S PARADISE. 



WHILE Roland was descending into the fosse of Saragossa, Mahomet 
was taking his afternoon nap in his Paradise. A houri had rolled 
a cloud under his head, and he was snoring serenely near the fountain of 
Salsabil. 

The first blow of Durandal's pommel awoke the Prophet. 

" Come in," said he, turning round, in no pleasant humour at being 
disturbed. The second stroke put him out still more ; and he rang for 
the angel Namous, and inquired of him who dared to make such an uproar. 

" Great Prophet," said the heavenly messenger, " it's that Roland at 
his tricks arain. He has undertaken to flinsf down the walls of Saragfossa ; 
and I really can't help trembling for the fate of your followers ! " 

" I must see to this," said Mahomet ; " I feel certain you are ex- 
aggerating as usual, and that my brave Marsillus will not let himself be 
beaten by a Christian." 

The Prophet stepped down into his observatory, and turned his tele- 
scope on Saragossa. 

" By the crescent ! I never remember anything like it. The dog has the 
mien of a demigod ! I am anxious to see him more closely. Etiquette 
and propriety will not permit me to go to him. Namous, saddle Borak, 
and seek Roland. Tell him I shall have much pleasure in seeing him, 
and don't fail to bring him." 

The Prophet's horse was turned out to graze in the Milky Way. 
Namous called him. 

" Come here, Borak. You have browsed enough here ; you feed too 
freely, and will injure yourself. A peck of stars ought to suffice you for 



128 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



one feed. We have got to descend to earth, and you can hardly stir. If 
the Blessed Prophet knew it— -" With that the angel sprang into his saddle, 
and began to ply his spurs. In a quarter of an hour they had left the 
planets behind them. 

When Namous alighted, Saragossa was taken and sacked ; and Roland 
was wondering how on earth to spend the evening. The angel approached 




The Prophet takes an observation. 

him respectfully and said, " I am Namous, the envoy and familiar minister 
of the Prophet. The Lord of the Ka'abah has noted you chief among the 
Christians, and he desires a visit from you. Be pleased, therefore, to follow 
me at once." 

" Your master does me a great honour, and one of which many of 
my brothers in arms are more deserving than I. You must convey to him 
my excuses, and tell him that I lead a very quiet life ; that I have my 
religious duties to attend to ; that, in short, I don't go much into society." 

" The Prophet will very justly feel surprised and hurt at such an 
answer. He will demand of me the real reason of your refusal. Are you 
afraid you may be led astray by the beauties of his paradise ? " 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. I 29 

" If you had known Aude, my beloved Aude, that foolish notion would 
never have crossed your mind." 

" Are you afraid of a trip through the air ? " 

"If I thought I might tumble I would set out at once. Fear is a 
complete stranger to me ; but I have heard of it so often that I should be 
anxious to make its acquaintance." 

" You are fatigued with your day's work, perhaps ? " 

" Offer me an opponent worthy of my sword, and you shall see if it 
is possible to weary Roland." 

The angel bowed, and prepared to spring into his saddle again. The 
attention of the Count of Mans was attracted by Borak, who fretted, pranced, 
champed his bit, and pawed the ground, impatient to return to his celestial 
stable. 

"What a fine animal!" said Roland, admiringly. 

In truth, one rarely sees one so handsome. Borak was a fine-limbed, 
high-standing horse, strong in frame, and with a coat as glossy as marble 
which is constantly laved by a fountain. His colour was saffron, with one 
hair of gold for every three of tawny ; his ears were restless, pointed like 
a reed ; his eyes large, and full of fire ; his nostrils wide and steaming, with 
a white star on his forehead, a neck gracefully arched, and decked with a 
mane soft and silky enough to make a young girl envious. He had a long, 
thick tail, that swept the ground. 

" It is the Prophet's favourite mount. He has sent it in your especial 
honour." 

Roland was touched at the delicate attention. 

" I wished," continued the angel, " to bring you some quieter animal ; but 
Mahomet said you were the best rider he knew, and he was sure you would 
be able to master it. At the same time," added Namous, treacherously, 
" if it be that which stops you, I can provide you with other means of 
transport." 

The Count of Mans simply shrugged his shoulders, and by way of 
answer leaped into the saddle — despite the weight of his armour — without 
setting foot in stirrup, or putting hand to mane. Borak swerved an instant, 
then dashed into space, scaling the cloud-mountains at full gallop. The 
angel spread his wings, and took the lead. 

When Roland recovered the surprise, he was as high as the constella- 
tion Scorpio. He felt anger would be out of place; so, assuring himself 
that Durandal was at his side, he resigned himself to circumstances. 

The journey was made without difficulty. Only once was the knight 

R 



13° 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



in danger of falling, when Borak, scared by a shooting star, which passed 
between his legs, almost unseated him with a buck-jump. At length, after 
an ascent of half an hour, the steed paused, while the angel knocked at 
the largest of the eight gates of Paradise. As soon as it opened Roland 
uttered a cry of admiration. 

How can I — with only human language — describe to you so many 




Roland rides into space. 



superhuman wonders ? I ought first of all to tell you that all the faculties 
of our brave knight acquired an immense augmentation on passing the 
threshold of Paradise. His sight, for instance, although good enough, had 
only permitted him on earth to distinguish objects at an inconsiderable 
distance. Imagine his surprise on beholding clearly and minutely the most 
tiny creatures six or seven hundred leagues off — and that without the laws 
of perspective being in the least degree deranged. The same thing occurred 




Roland in Mahomet's Paradise. 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 133 

with regard to hearing and smelling. He used subsequently to relate the 
pleasure with which he smelt the perfume of a flower which had just 
come in bloom in a neighbouring state, while listening at the same time 
to the song of a bird which was warbling at the opposite pole. His 
mind, too, had become so enlarged that he felt no inconvenience from this 
vastly increased acuteness of the senses. At one glance he gazed over 
two thousand square parasangs of country, each parasang being something 
lartrer than a league. The virgin forests of America are but brushwood 
compared with those he beheld. On all sides were cities of shining white- 
ness, surmounted by thousands of spires and cupolas of gold and silver. 
At the foot of their walls flowed majestic rivers, in which the Rhine, the 
Euphrates, and the Nile would have been swallowed up. Nothing which 
troubles the inhabitants of earth existed in this enchanted clime. The 
lion, the tiger, the serpent, and the leopard were but the ornaments of 
the forest. They fed upon the green herbage, and submitted to human 
rule with perfect docility. There was no wind — only a gentle breeze ; no 
storms — only perfumed showers. It was an Italian climate beneath an 
Egyptian sky ! 

A winged band, commanded by Israfel, the angel of the resurrection, 
came to meet Roland. 

" The Prophet has sent us to you to announce his approach. Will you 
follow us, or will you await him here ? " 

" I will follow you," said Roland, joining the troop. He saw with 
wonder that the forests retired to make way for him ; the rivers changed 
their courses on his approach. He wished to assure himself that this was 
not a deception of the mirage, and galloped rapidly towards a lake which 
lay beside his route. His horse did not refuse the leap, but the water 
respectfully -drew back, and he alighted on level and thickly-blossomed 
sward. 

Israfel, remarking Roland's astonishment, said, " The Prophet has taken 
care that all here shall do you homage. He is aware that you go through 
life, as through battle, straight at your mark, and he wished to prove that 
he knew your tastes and habits." 

Roland continued his progress until he met the procession, when he 
halted to let it pass. The ground, before he was aware of it, rose beneath 
his horse's feet, and he found himself in a minute on a mound, from which 
he gazed down on the crowd. Israfel made a sign : two trees at once 
sprang from the soil, and afforded the knight a pleasant shade. The Count 
of Mans, in silent astonishment, watched the procession without stirring. 



134 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



First came a thousand horsemen, each bearing a white and ruby 
banner, and mounted on a white charger. Next to these came a thousand 
more, clad in suits of mail, armed with maces, and riding on bay horses ; 
behind them came two thousand Berbers from the regions of Timbuctoo, 




^ «;*s 



Mahomet's musicians. 



who brandished lances with green pennons, and bore sword-proof bucklers 
of rhinoceros hide. Their steeds were as black as their faces. Then 
followed three thousand more horsemen, with serpent-skin girdles. They 
carried hide shields, and had bows hung at their saddle-pommels. Long 
lances, furnished with sharp barbs, gleamed in their hands ; their horses 



the prophet's paradise. 



135 



were cream-coloured. To these succeeded an army composed of soldiers, 
as many in number as there are drops in the sky ; some were armed with 
spears or bills, others with javelins or maces. A hundred paces behind 
these came eight thousand elephants, in ranks of twenty-five abreast, the 

•I 



mmmmm 










A^ 



The Prophet's elephants. 



first line white, the second black, and so on. On the back of each was a 
tower, containing twenty armed men. Behind these, again, came thirty 
white elephants, covered with golden stars, and so richly caparisoned you 
could hardly look at them without winking. On these were borne the 
favourite wives of the Prophet, twenty on each elephant. Canopies of 



1^6 THE prophet's paradise. 



o 



dazzling whiteness, raised upon silver columns, shielded them from the sun. 
Ten thousand chosen warriors formed their escort. Last came an endless 
number of camels, laden with palanquins, whose curtains fluttered in the 
breeze. Each animal was led by a richly-clad Ethiopian, who held the 
zimzam, or nose-bridle, in his hands. In each palanquin ten houris, far 
more lovely than anything you can conceive, fluttered their feather fans. 
Then followed twenty thousand dancing girls, attired in light drapery, with 
bare arms and legs. You saw, as they moved, among their tresses and 
round their necks, coruscations of precious stones, so bright you were com- 
pelled to shade your eyes. The bracelets that quivered on their wrists, 
the bangles that gleamed on their ankles, kept up a musical and enticing 
tinkling. 

Shall I enumerate to you the multitude of female performers on the 
guitar, the tambourine, and the mandolin, and of the singers as well ? Of 
what use is it to crowd the page with strings of numerals ? 

These houris were of no common origin. Mahomet had formed their 
bodies of musk, saffron, amber, and frankincense. Their faces were so radiant 
with beauty, that they diffused a gentle splendour in the night, like the moon 
when she mounts above the horizon amid the mists of earth. Their voices 
were so sweet, that every syllable which fell from their lips was precious. 

After these beauties came the Prophet, attired in a green robe, and 
seated on a white palfrey. He was dressed with the greatest simplicity, and 
far from showily mounted, and yet one felt an inward inclination to bend 
the knee to him as he passed. On his right hand rode his grandsire, 
Abd el Motalleb ; on his left his father, Abdallah ; and he was surrounded 
by Ali, his cousin and most warm disciple; by Said, his adopted heir; by 
the four sages of Mecca — Waraca, Othman, Obaydallah, and Zaid ; by the 
fiery Omar, the faithful Aboubeker, and thousands of others just as famous. 

A hundred thousand horsemen brought up the rear of the cavalcade. 

As the troops took up their positions, the scenery underwent a complete 
change, unobserved of Roland, who was absorbed in watching the procession. 
When he cast a look around him, he beheld himself surrounded by mountains 
whose summits were beyond his ken. These gigantic heights, which were 
composed of gneiss, mica, agate, onyx, trap, and porphyry, were clothed half- 
way up by forests whose flora comprised the growths of all climes. The 
vast baobab spread its branches in close contiguity to an island of palms, 
which displayed their delicate foliage against the blue sky. The silvery 
mohonono contrasted well with the dark motsouri ; the moupanda-panda of 
Central Africa, the jacquier of Malacca, the oak of Europe, mingled their 




The houris on camels 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



139 



boughs. Rivers, whose source was hidden in the clouds, bounded from rock 
to rock, flinging up at every obstacle crests of feathery spray, spanned by 
rainbows. 

The troops occupied positions on the heights. Roland beheld clouds 




The rrophet. 



of warriors proudly occupying apparently inaccessible peaks. The elephants 
were drawn up in two lines, four thousand in each, and the thirty white 
elephants of the Prophet's favourites Avere grouped in front of them. And 
now angels appeared, who, spreading their wide wings, offered their aid to 



I40 THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 

enable the six hundred chosen beauties to dismount. They alighted close 
to the Count of Mans, before whom they bowed low, and then took their 
places on a carpet spread for them on his right. The camels came next, 
and knelt down gently, whereupon the houris sprang from their palanquins 
with a lightness and grace which astonished Roland more than all. Their 
feet hardly left an imprint in the sand. Like the favourites of the harem, 
they also approached Roland, and, kissing the ground before him, ranged 
themselves on his left. Then like a flood advanced the troop of celestial 
dancers, tripping along to the sound of castanets, flutes, theorbos, timbrels, 
guitars, and mandolins, amid loud singing, accompanied by the most lively 
strains of music. 

The animation of their movements increased or diminished according 
to the rhythm, which they marked by accurate beats of the foot and clap- 
ping of hands, in slow or quick time. Their eyes were now filled with soft 
languor — now darted glances of fire. Balancing themselves from the hips, 
they swung their bodies and waved their arms with ease and grace. At 
times a comb, unable to imprison such a wealth of tresses, fell out, and 
freed locks that were as dark as the night. 

But now the Prophet gave the signal : the dances ceased, and the houris 
flew, like a flock of frightened birds, to take their position opposite Roland, 
and under shelter of the elephants. 

Mahomet, in his turn, drew nearer to the nephew of Charlemagne, who 
immediately dismounted — an act of courtesy to age he invariably observed. 

" May Allah, who has made all things of earth and heaven, of day 
and night, extend his blessing to you in this world and in the one you 
inhabit ! You are welcome," said the Prophet ! " I must ask your pardon 
for the poverty of this reception, as our meeting has been arranged at 
such short notice that I have only had time to bring as my suite a few of 
my immediate followers, and the troops which happen to be my guard of 
honour for the day. Besides, I feared that in surrounding myself with too 
great pomp, I might seem to be offering a defiance to a late enemy, whom 
I only desire to make a friend of. If I have not treated you with more 
ceremony, it is because I wish to treat you like a brother." 

Roland made a wry face, which the Prophet thought it convenient to 
attribute to the glare of the sun in his eyes, and therefore made a sign 
to four angels, who immediately flew off and spread a rosy cloud before 
the luminary. 

" I accept your explanation," said Roland, coolly, half doubting whether 
the Prophet were not making fun of him. " I have equal need of pardon ; 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 141 

but if I have come without a fitting retinue, you must attribute it to my 
desire to answer your invitation promptly." 

After this exchange of courtesies, Roland commenced the conversation 
by saying, " You will forgive me if I beg you at once to inform me what 
it is that has obtained me the honour of this interview, as I am in a hurry 
to return to earth. I mount guard to-night in the Emperor's tent, and I 
never like to fail in the performance of duty." 

"Never fear," said Mahomet; "I'll have the sun put back. We have 
all time for our interview." 

" I am all attention." 

" There is not a more valiant knight than you living. Your single 
arm is worth an army. Your judgment is sound, your decision speedy " 

" How much do you expect for this panegyric ? I warn you, before 
you go any further, not to set too high a price on it, as I have a clear 
estimate of my modest worth." 

" I am in the habit of giving far more than I get, so fear not, but 
suffer me to proceed. In my youth I was called El Amin — ' the Safe 
Man.' I know that I possess a generous soul, and that none can be 
more loyal than you." 

" This eulogy is evidently the prologue of some treason you are going 
to ask of me." 

" If it be treason to leave a bad cause for a good one, to renounce 
attempts which are futile, and to accept good fortune when it is offered, I 
have, in effect, treason to propose to you." 

" By the Trinity ! but you are putting a high price on compliments for 
which nobody asked you ! " 

" I swear by the holy mountain — by the temple of pilgrimage — by the 
vault of heaven and the depths of ocean — that the divine vengeance is 
about to fall ! nothing can delay it. The convulsed skies shall totter ! 
the uprooted mountains shall move ! I swear by the resting-place of the 
star " 

" Of a truth, here is plenty of fine words ! " said Roland, shrugging his 
shoulders. " When we gallant Christian knights make a statement, they 
believe us without our having to call in the aid of the sky, and sea, and 
stars." 

" As surely as I overthrew the three idols of Mecca, Lata, Aloza, and 
Menat, the Christians shall be driven from Spain, and their lands invaded. 
Their army shall be dispersed, and shall fly shamefully. Their hour is 
come, and it will be bitter and terrible." 



142 THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 

" I have read all that in the Koran," answered Roland, who felt his 
patience failing him. " But that does not say what you want of me, or 
why you are thus wasting my time. Since the future is revealed to you, 
and you are so certain of our approaching overthrow, there can be no 
obstacle to my returning to my post." 

" Yes, the future is ours. You alone delay the coming of the day of 
glory. We shall conquer, but while you live it will be only at the price 
of terrible sacrifices that we can purchase victory. Why persist in returning 
to a world in which death awaits you ? I offer you the sovereignty of this 
realm, its wealth, its women, its warriors. The inhabitants of air, earth, 
and water, the stars which move in the firmament — all that is gifted with 
reason or instinct, essence and matter — in one word, everything shall 
belong to you and owe to you unreserved obedience. If the sun annoys 
you, the moon shall take its place. Give but the sign, and rivers shall 
dry up to let you pass. A population more vast than all the nations of 
earth put together shall live only to serve you. These warriors are 
brave." 

" Of what use is their bravery if they have no enemies to contend 
with ? " 

" These horses are more swift than the wind." 

" Of what service is their speed, since there is here no goal that I 
desire to reach ? " 

" These women are lovely." 

" Their beauty is sheer waste, for I do not love them ! " 

" Durandal is famous on earth, and yet the humblest of these soldiers 
could cut it in two with the edge of his poniard." 

" Enough ! " interposed Roland. " I have already told you I am in a 
hurry. You have not, I imagine, the impudence to suppose you are rich 
enough in wonders to induce me to commit a base action — your Allah 
himself would be ashamed of such a thing. You have told me I am the 
bravest of living knights : should I be so if I feared the death you 
threaten me with ? ' My single arm is worth a whole army,' you add. 
Have I any right, then, to deprive my comrades of its aid at that moment, 
of all others, when you profess that they are in danger ? ' My judgment 
is sound : ' allow me to offer you a further proof of it by laughing at 
your menaces, and predicting your complete overthrow. Mahomet and 
Jupiter will soon meet and shake hands, and the crescent will be sent 
where the old moons go " 

" You will not listen ? " 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE, 



H3 



" I have heard too much already ! " 

" Behold these lovely creatures, who stretch out their arms towards 
you ! " 

" They but make me see how far lovelier my Aude is." 

" See the lands I offer you ! " 

" What is a region of wonders compared with the spot where a man 
was born ■ " 

"Roland, by the faith of Mahomet! you shall never again behold the 
land of France ! " 

" I am a Christian, besides beine a Frenchman. The native land to 
which I aspire is Heaven, and that birthplace you cannot prevent me from 
beholding once more." 

" Infidel hound!" said the Prophet, "I But the words were such 

as Roland could not listen to patiently. Mahomet did not finish his 
sentence, for the gauntlet of the knight smote him on the mouth. 




Koland defies the Prophet. 




The sun and the sandy plain. 



CHAPTER X. 

WHEN ROLAND REMEMBERS HIS LATIN, AND THE DEVIL FORGETS HIS. 



I AM unable to tell you what followed. Even Roland had no clear 
recollection. When he recovered his senses, he rose and cast his 
eyes round him, to find himself in the midst of a vast sandy plain, stretchino- 
ou all sides to the horizon. The sun poured its hostile rays upon him 
so fiercely, that in a few minutes his armour became insupportably hot. 
The atmosphere was so charged with electricity, that the plume of his 
helmet crackled, and gave out sparks. In vain he searched the horizon 
for a place of shelter — there was nothing to be seen but level plain and 
blue sky. Gigantic red ants came and went busily — they were the only 
occupants of this desert. All of a sudden he beheld before him in the 
distance white mosques, knots of palms, and a sea-port with some vessels 
at anchor, and others sailing out of the harbour. He saw, too, long 
caravans, which journeyed to the city gates. 

Roland felt his courage revive, and set out in the direction of the 
city. But he did not appear to come any the closer to it ; he took to 
running until he fell down with fatigue on the burning sand. Then the 
city seemed to turn of a yellow hue, the blue of the sea grew paler, and 
was lost in that of the sky ; the trees vanished, and the Count of Mans 
found himself once more alone in the desert. 

" Why come to a halt ? " said he to himself. " Better move forward in 
any direction at hap-hazard. I can only gain by the change." 

He rose, determined to struggle on as long as his limbs would sustain 
him. What was his surprise to see, in an opposite direction to that he 
had just been pursuing, a mountain covered with verdure, on the summit 
of which stood a castle ! Three walls of circumvallation surrounded it. At 
the foot of each flowed a river covered with vessels of war. Three hanmncr 



THE PROPHET S PARADISE. 



145 



ladders of marvellous workmanship 
united the three platforms of the 
fortress, and four bastions guarded 
the approach to each ladder. 

Roland once more pushed on ; but 
as he advanced, the fortress rose into 
the skies, until, after about an hour's 
walking, he found himself with nothing 
before him save the blank horizon of 
the desert. Then despair seized him. 
He sank on his knees, crossed himself, 
and shed four tears, the first he had 
ever wept. They fell on the sand, 
and there formed four springs for a 
stream of cool and clear water. Roland 
received from this new vigour, and 
having rendered thanks to Providence, 
he was preparing to move forward, 
when he remarked with surprise a 
great stirring of the sand. Little 
clouds of dust began to rise in all 
directions, although there was not 
a breath stirrinof. Then the sand 
began to whirl round incessantly, mark- 
ing a great circle at a short distance 
from our hero. 

As it began to whirl, it heaped 
itself up, drawn towards the centre by 
some strange force of attraction. You 
would have said that some gigantic 
polypus was sucking up all the sand of 
the desert. After a few minutes there 
mounted, still eddying round, a huge 
column, which grew as Roland watched 
it, until the summit was lost to sight 
in the sky. A hot wind, like the 
harmattan of the Guinea coast, rose 
and drove the sand before it in clouds. 
The sun turned red as molten iron. 




The phantom fori. 



146 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 



The pillar of sand at last lost its equilibrium, and fell with a horrible 
rushing sound. Roland closed his eyes, but he did not recoil. Hearing 
a oreat roar of laughter, he instinctively clutched his sword by the hilt. 
What he saw next induced him to draw it from its sheath. 

The sand, in falling, had reared a mound, the base of which formed 
an enormous circle, in the centre of which Roland perceived, with surprise, 
a huge monster buried in sand to his waist. It was Eblis, the Devil of 
the East. 

His Majesty was a hundred feet in height, which is a respectable size, 




Eblis. 



even for a demon of the highest rank. His black skin, striped with red, 
was covered with small scales, which made it glisten like armour. His hair 
was so long and curly, a snake might have lost its way in it. His fiat nose 
was pierced with a ring of admirable workmanship, as you see done to the 
wild bulls of the Roman Campagna. His white teeth, set with precious 
stones, gave to his smile a very variegated appearance. His small eyes 
assumed, one after the other, all the prismatic colours, which made it 
impossible to sustain his gaze. His ears, which exactly resembled those 
of an elephant, flapped on his shoulders ; but he had, to make up for it, 
a tail sixty feet long, terminating in a hooked claw, which could have wielded 
the Monument easily as a toothpick. 

Eblis had no other covering than his wings, which were large, soft, and 



Roland's descent. 



THE PROPHETS PARADISE. 149 

marvellously pliable, and in which he delighted to wrap himself. Conceive, 
further, that a phosphorescent gleam played incessantly over the monster's 
skin, and you will easily understand why Roland unsheathed Durandal. 
Eblis was writhing with laughter. 

" I haven't roared so through all eternity, upon my honour ! Here, I 
say, my little man, do you know you have just done a master-stroke ?" 

This familiar tone displeased Roland. 

"I have just met Mahomet," continued Eblis, "and you have broken 
five of his front teeth. I have seen a good many prophets in my time, 
but I vow, on the faith of the accursed, I never saw one in such a rage. 
I have, in honour of the blow, given three days' holiday in the infernal 
regions. There will be concerts, balls, hunts, and theatres. I have had 
written, by one of our best authors, a little comedy in the style of Apollo- 
dorus, in the last scene of which Mahomet receives a hundred strokes of 
the bastinado. I have given orders to an army of cooks ; you can hear 
even here a rattle of stew-pans altogether refreshing. I will undertake to 
let you see we are not so backward in this respect as people pretend. 
You will meet with many old friends among the guests ; we have quite a 
crowd of visitors just now. My wife, who is a lively one, will be delighted 
to make your acquaintance. Come, let me present you to her as the best 
of my friends." 

" Babbler ! " exclaimed Roland, but little flattered at these marks of 
friendship. " What right have you to address me in this style ? " 

Eblis, who was not accustomed to be treated so cavalierly, was dumb 
with surprise for a moment. 

"By my father's horns!" said he, at last, "I must have misunderstood 
you. Give me your hand, Roland, to disabuse me of the error." 

He stretched out his tail to the knight, who, however, only drew 
back a few steps. 

" What, puny wretch ! " shrieked Eblis, turning as white with rage as 
it was possible for one so black to do. " I shall send you back to earth. 
Do you think I am of the same stuff as Mahomet ? " 

But here Roland flung- his second gauntlet in the demon's face. 

" That makes the pair ! " said the nephew of Charlemagne, placing 
himself in an attitude of defence. 

" Zacoum Zimzim Galarabak ! " shouted Eblis, mad with fury. (You 
must know that is the most terrible oath that can be uttered in the 
Saracen tongue.) The earth shook and gaped at Roland's feet. He felt 
himself launched into space. His armour suddenly became icy cold. 



i5o 



THE PROPHET S PARADISE. 



" If I get back without an attack of rheumatism I shall be lucky," 
said the knight. 

He heard around him the flapping of wings ; it was a troop of afreets 
and djins. 

" Reflect, Roland. There is yet time. Mahomet is prepared to for- 
give you." 

All the answer Roland vouchsafed was the intoning of the canticle — ■ 

" Sub tuum FrEesidium confugimus." 

" In a few moments your body will be dashed to pieces on earth. 
Remember the wondrous things the Prophet offered to share with you." 

" Sancta Dei gcnitrix ; nostras dcprccationes ne despicias," 

continued Roland. And now it seemed to him that, instead of falling at 
hazard, he was being gently carried. The chorus of afreets and djins was 
left far behind, but he still heard the sound of pinions. 

" Set your mind at rest," said a voice so exquisitely musical that 
Roland trembled to hear it. " I am the Archangel 
Michael. Our Blessed Lady has sent me to preserve 
you. She had been touched by your constancy and 
courage. Repose in safety on my wings, and we shall 
soon reach earth." 

And, in truth, in a few minutes' time the Count 
of Mans, to his astonishment, found himself before 
Saragossa. He was at prayer in his tent when he heard 
the voice of Miton. 

" My dear Roland, where are you ? " cried the 
Count of Rennes, anxiously. 

" Here I am," said the knight, hurrying to his 
friend. 

" Charlemagne, who knows how punctual you are, 
seeing you were ten minutes behind your time to take on 
your guard, has sent to look for you in every direction. You are pale, 
my dear Count ; what has happened to you ? " 

" I will tell you all about it," said Roland, as he hastened to his post 
near the Emperor. 




Roland hurries to his 
post. 



END OF THE SECOND BOOK. 



BOOK THE THIRD. 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 




The scouts' report. 



BOOK THE THIRD. 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR, 



CHAPTER I. 



THE FOUR FOES OF CROQUEMITAINE. 



CHARLEMAGNE had an excellent memory. He never omitted to 
ponder over the dangers to which Mitaine was exposed at every. turn. 
He had the scene of the late ambush carefully searched by his spies in the 
first place, and afterwards by his soldiers. All, on their return, made the 
same report. They said the forest was inhabited, and there was a good 
deal of talk about a castle called " The Fortress of Fear," which was to be 
found somewhere in the neighbourhood, although nobody they met with had 
seen it. None, however, doubted its existence. If a child disappeared, or 
any cattle were carried off, the trembling peasants said, " The Lord of Fear- 
fortress had taken them." If a fire broke out anywhere, it was the Lord of 
Fear-fortress who must have lit it. The origin of all accidents, mishaps, 
catastrophes, or disasters was traced to the mysterious owner of this invisible 
castle. 

" I should like to have the mystery cleared up," said Charlemagne to 
himself. " I can hardly resign myself to the belief that it is Ganelon, my 
old brother-in-arms." 

He called his knights together. 

" My faithful champions, I need four of you for a perilous adventure 

u 



154 THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 

I know not where I am sending you — I know not whether you will return. 
Who will risk death for my good favour?" 

All the knights at once flung themselves at his feet, each entreating 
the Emperor to honour him with his choice. 

" You place me in a difficult position," said the Emperor, greatly moved ; 
" I see that chance must point out the four champions. I can without fear 
trust to it, for you are all equally brave." 

The names of all the knights present were put into a helmet, and Mitaine 
played the part of Destiny to the best of her power, little thinking she was 
choosing her own champions and avengers. The first name she called out 
was that of Allegrignac of Cognac, Count of Saleneon and Saintonge. 

" The lot suits me admirably," said the Emperor, giving a friendly wave 
of his hand to the knight. " You know the language of the country, and 
will be a safe guide for your companions." 

Mitaine next named the Baron of Mont-Rognon, Lord of Bourglastic, 
Tortebesse, and elsewhere. 

" This is indeed a capital choice ! There is no stouter arm in the Arvennes 
than yours ; and if there be a postern to be burst open by a powerful shoulder, 
you will be there, Mont-Rognon." 

" Porc-en-Truie, Lord of Machavoine," cried Mitaine. 

" I am in luck to-day, by St. James ! You are known to be experienced, 
Porc-en-Truie, and you will conduct the adventure, I entrust to you, to a 
prosperous end, I feel sure. But I am curious to know who is my fourth 
champion." 

" Maragougnia, Count of Riom," said Mitaine. 

" Now we have wisdom, strength, and cunning. Maragougnia can cdve 
the serpent points at wisdom, and beat him. If I do not succeed with 
such knights I shall despair altogether." 

Charlemagne withdrew with his four champions, told them of the perils 
to which his god-child had been exposed, the investigation he had instituted, 
the suspicions he had entertained ; and finally, he spoke of the Fortress of 
Fear, winding up in these terms : — 

" I am anxious to square accounts with this Croquemitaine. You will 
pass through the forest till you arrive at Alagon, a little hamlet on the 
banks of the Ebro. There you will inquire for the Fonda del Caiman, or, 
if you prefer it, the sign of the Crocodile. You will there rest yourselves 
for a short time, and then set out on your quests. You, Allegrignac, 
striking off from the river, will pursue your course towards Pampeluna. 
You, Mont-Rognon, will proceed in the direction of Catalyud ; and look 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 1 55 

out for the Saracens, my friend, who on that side are disgusted enough 
with the trouble we have given them. You, Porc-en-Truie, will make for 
Fuentes. If you are guided by me, you will travel by night only, and 
conceal yourself carefully by day. You will appreciate my counsel when 
once you are on the road. You, finally, my gallant Maragougnia, will 
have to direct your steps towards Lerida, but you will not go beyond the 
river Alcander. I have reserved this expedition for you because it is the 
most hazardous — there, you need not thank me. I understand you ! 
Quarter the country in every direction, and find out for me this Fortress 
of Fear. He who brings me the head of its dreaded lord shall be created 
a baron and peer of my realm." 

The Emperor replenished the purses of his champions, and took leave 
of them with an embrace. When they found themselves alone they inter- 
changed looks of bewilderment. 

" What do you think of that ? " said Porc-en-Truie, with a grimace. 

" That I shall be a duke," said Allegrignac, cutting a caper. " This 
adventure won't take me a minute ! " 

"To think that we must set out to-night!" said Mont-Rognon, in 
tones of regret ; " and to think that I have ordered a splendid supper for 
to-night, which my fellows will get the benefit of ! " 

" To think that we shall none of us ever come back again ! " said 
Maragougnia, in a melancholy voice, as he wiped away a tear with the 
sleeve of his chain-mail. 

" Pshaw! who knows ? " broke in Porc-en-Truie, with a smile. " Let us 
set out, and then we can see ! " 

They appointed to meet on the borders of the forest, and within an 
hour afterwards they were all on the spot, equipped for war or for travel. 

Porc-en-Truie, Lord of Machavoine, was a great fellow of thirty years 
of age, more skilled in avoiding blows than in dealing them. He invariably 
shirked all his military duties, not because he was a coward, but because he 
was incorrigibly idle. He had been known to tramp three hours afoot to 
save himself the trouble of saddling his horse, and he had killed his 
dearest friend in a tournament, in order to terminate a longf and fatigaiinaf 
tilting match. He arrived at the rendezvous on horseback, with no weapon 
but his sword. 

" How imprudent ! " cried Allegrignac, the moment he saw him coming. 
" Are we going to a wedding only, or are you desirous of emulating Miton's 
great feat at the Tourney of Fronsac ? " 

" I hate a load of weapons, and I don't mean to kill myself for this 



i56 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 




Mitaine — for whom, between you and me, I don't care a grain of mustard- 
seed ! " 

Allegrignac of Cognac, Count of Salencon, was twenty-five years of 
age, and six feet six high. He had an open countenance, a stout 

heart, an untiring tongue, limbs of steel, a 
stomach of leather, and a very slender patri- 
mony. His hair was curly, his teeth were 
white. He was as proud as a Spaniard, as 
brave as a Frenchman, as simple-minded as 
a goose. He was possessed of a pleasant con- 
tralto voice, a cheerful spirit, and a grey horse 
called Serenade. 

Picture to yourself a figure clad in complete 
steel, and with weapons of vast weight, like one 
of those armed and bandy-legged giants you 
see in a procession of trades, capable of lifting 
enormous weights, not to mention cattle, and 
any other unconsidered trifles he could lay 
hands on, and you have a portrait of the 
Baron of Mont-Rognon, Lord of Bourglastic, 
Tortebesse, and elsewhere. This huge mass 
of muscle existed only to eat and drink. He was a descendant of Esau 
on his father's side, and of Gargantua on his mother'.s. He once per- 
formed a gigantic feat — he killed six hundred Saracens who happened to 
get in his way as he was going to dinner. He had an elastic stomach, 
and a mouth armed 

/ . 



with four rows of teeth. 
Having described his 
stomach and his mouth, 
I need not go on with 
the likeness, for all that 
remained were mere in- 
cidental appurtenances. 
He arrived third at the 

place of meeting, leading by the halter a mule laden with provisions and 
bottles. 

" What's this ? " said Allegrignac, laughingly. 

" That!" said Mont-Rognon, offended at his bluntness. "That's supper." 

"What's the use of that?" said Porc-en-Truie. 



Mont-Rognon the Monstrous. 




Mont-Rognon in a hurry for his dinner. 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



157 



" Charlemagne has ordered us to perish for him," broke in the 
Lord of Bourglastic, " but he did not stipulate that we should perish of 
hunger." 

Maragougnia, Count of Riom, was the last to arrive. He was equipped 
in the most gloomy style. His armour was of browned steel, sprinkled with 
silver tears. From the coronet that surmounted his helmet sprang a few 
mangy black feathers, which drooped over his shoulders like the branches 
of a weeping willow, and all the rest of his accoutre- 
ments were to match. 

He had one extraordinary quality, which was his 
strong point — instead of making him lose his head, fear 
only gave him increased presence of mind. They related 
deeds of prowess of his which were, in reality, only pro- 
digies of cowardice. He did everything with a profound 
air of melancholy. His first wife, they say, died of 
yawning; the second perished of sheer weariness in 
three weeks. 

Behind him came a page, who might be considered 
to have originated the sombre livery worn nine hundred 
years later by the page of the Duchess of {Marlborough.* 
This lugubrious squire bore the count's change of arms — 
to wit : two daggers of mercy ; three swords, various ; 
one lance; one helmet; one morion; two daggers, 
poisoned ; one battle-axe ; one flail, iron ; one shield ; 
one breastplate ; one shirt of mail ; two pairs of gaunt- 
lets ; three pairs of spurs. 

" Good heavens ! " said Allegrignac ; " are we 
going to equip all the nation lor war ? Look, Porc-en-Truie ! the Count 
of Riom has stripped the armouries of his ten castles." 

" I wouldn't stir an inch," said Porc-en-Truie, in the interval of a couple 
of yawns, "to assure myself that Maragougnia has done something silly. If 
you assured me to the contrary, I might perhaps be surprised into getting 
up to see. And yet no ! I couldn't believe it ; so I should stay where I 
was." 

Porc-en-Truie, I must observe, sat himself down on the grass the 
moment he arrived. 




Maragougnia 
the Melancholy. 



' Vide " Malbrouck : " — 

" Elle voit venir son page 
De unir tout habille." 



158 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



" You're quite welcome to laugh at my prudence," said Maragougnia, 
" but I don't foreet we are gfoin<r to certain death." 

" Certain death ! Fiddlesticks ! I mean yet to rival the Methusalems 
of the period," said Porc-en-Truie, rising. " And now let's be off, if we are 
to reach Alaeon to-nitrht." 

" To prepare for death," said Maragougnia, dashing away a tear with 
his o-auntlet. 

" To go to sleep," said Porc-en-Truie, with a yawn. 

" To try a throw with the dice," said Allegrignac, jingling the money 
in his purse. 

" To make a good supper," said Mont-Rognon, with a hollow voice, 
gnashing his teeth like castanets. 

In ten minutes the four knights had entered the wood. At sunset 
Alleo-rio^nac was hammering with his fist at the door of the Fonda del 
Caiman. 




The four adventurous kni^hls 




The sign of the Crocodile. 



CHAPTER II. 



THE SIGN OF THE CROCODILE. 



THE Innkeeper was a man of middle size, half Spaniard and half 
Moor, with a big body and thin leys, a brown skin and grey eyes. 
He had acquired considerable reputation in the district for his mode of 
dressing calves' feet with saffron, and his handiness in stabbing people in 
the right place. He made everything a matter of trade, and used to 
regret that he had inherited no religious opinions which he could have 
abjured at a fixed price to be got either from the Saracens or the Christians. 
For the rest, he was a most obliging host, provided your purse was well 
supplied ; and I believe I shall put the finishing stroke to the likeness 
when I say he was the biggest robber in all Spain, from Pontevedra to 
Girone. 

Ali Pepe opened the door. One is always forgetting something, and 
I forgot to tell you his name was Ali Pepe. 

" Where's the landlady ? " asked Allegrignac, twisting his moustache. 

" I want a bed," yawned Porc-en-Truie. 

" Some supper ! " growled Mont-Rognon. 

Maragougnia said nothing. He was absorbed in studying the inn, 
and the estimate he formed seemed far from satisfactory. 

Ali Pepe stood on the defensive, blocking the entrance of the inn. 

" Your lordships appear of too exalted a station for me to omit to inform 
you that you will find the accommodation here very unsuited to you." 



i6o 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



" Here's frankness and disinterestedness ! But where can we find better 
accommodation ? " 

" My inn is the only one in the district." 

" Then make way for us," said Mont-Rognon, catching up Ali Pepe 

by the girdle, and carrying him in at 
arm's ' length into the kitchen. " We 
shall be able to converse better here ! " 

Maragougnia entered last. He 
tried all the locks, in order to see 
whether the doors closed securely. He 
examined all the outlets, sounded the 
panels, and ordered his squire to bring 
him his arms. 

" We want four beds," said Porc- 
en-Truie. 

" In the same room," said Mara- 
gougnia, who had a horror of being 
solitary. 

" First of all we want supper," 
bellowed Mont-Rognon ; " don't let us 
forget the most important of our wants." 

" A modest supper," suggested Ma- 
ragougnia, who was afraid of the ex- 
pense. 

" A modest supper ! " bellowed the 
Lord of Bourglastic. " Don't you do 
anything of the kind, landlord, or Pll 
burn the place about your ears. Empty 
your poultry-yard, drag your fish-ponds, 
: — kill, pluck, draw, and broach, — in 




Mine host of the Crocodile. 



won 



uncork your bottles ; set to 

short, make ready, to the best of your power, a feast for an emperor or 

a sultan ! " 

" You will lay for me separately," said the Count of Riom, tearfully, 
" a few radishes and some wine of first-rate " 

" Cheapness," kindly suggested Allegrignac, with a smile. 

" May I know whom I have the honour to serve ? " said Ali Pepe, 
with a bow so respectful that Maragougnia was horrified to see it, fearing 
it would be included in the bill. 

" The short 



Nothing easier,' 



said Alleorio-nac, returning: Ali's bow. 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. l6l 

gentleman you see there is Purveyor-in-Chief to Charlemagne and all the 
crowned heads of the civilised world, from Armenia to Lusitania, from 
Scandinavia to Tripoli. He travels from district to district in search of 
new dishes to delight the royal tables. His dissertation on roasts is in 
everybody's mouth. He has proved satisfactorily that beef ought not 
to be taken from the spit until the meat begins to turn brown and show 
the gravy ; that mutton should be taken from the fire as soon as it begins 
to redden ; and that veal should not be dished up until the meat is quite 
white. This man, who seems so unpretending, has discovered that thirst 
is fostered by currents of air ; that the Scythians have stomachs an inch 
smaller than the Germans have ; but then, on the other hand, deeper by 
seven times than those of the Cimmerians. He was the first who fried 
carp in rose-water ; and he has, at last, after long and wearisome research, 
found in an old manuscript the recipe for garum, which was so highly 
prized by the ancients, but was thought to be lost. He has confided the 
secret to me, and I reveal it to you, in the hope that it will incite you to 
give us a better supper. Learn then, profane wretch ! that in order to 
prepare this dainty dish, you must let a hen-mackerel lie in pickle with 
small mushrooms for seventeen nights at the full of the moon. The 
inside must be removed carefully, pounded, soaked, and braized with 
religious care in a bag of rose-coloured silk — and mind, it must be rose- 
coloured. The liquor thus procured is gathered in a silver vessel, when 
the weather is fine — or stormy. It must be left to settle for three weeks 
and seven hours, after having been mixed with a preparation, of which I 
forget the composition, but which is the chief ingredient, and gives all the 
value to the dish. You see with whom you have to deal : be sure, 
therefore, that the repast is worthy of this great dignitary and of us ! " 

Ali Pepe bowed. 

" That gentleman who is snoring yonder travels in the hope of intro- 
ducing some improvement into the royal sleeping arrangements. No one 
knows better than he the wisest adjustment of counterpanes, quilts, 
blankets, bolsters, pillows, and valances. His comparative treatise, entitled 
' Lcctus cubilaris, Lucubratorius, Emortualis, Genialis et Decubitorius,' has 
been engrossed on vellum by the monks of Monte Casino. To him 
belongs the honour of superseding the sack of maize-straw by the down- 
bed, which he imported from Cimbria ; as also that of adding a second 
mattress to the sleeping-tackle of Royalty, which used to consist solely 
of a ticken, a pillow, and a bundle of straw. You see, therefore, that you 
must be careful to lodge us well for the night." 



1 62 THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 

Ali Pepc made another low bow. 

" I clon't like talking about myself," said Allegrignac, " but for this 
once I will yield to your importunity, and inform you who I am. You 
must surely have heard of the great giantess Alcomiroziropoulopilousi- 
tounitapignac ! " 

The landlord eyed the Count of Salencon askance for awhile, then, 
resifrnino- himself to his fate, he made an assenting gesture. 

" She was my mother," said Allegrignac. " She perished after six 
years of married happiness, murdered by my unhappy father, who was never 
tired of beating her. Disgusted with matrimony — and not without cause — 
she determined to live single. I came into the world within twelve months 
afterwards, and chose the profession of arms. My fortune, my noble birth 
■ — everything assured me that I must owe everything to my own prowess. 
I cheerfully accepted my lot, and crossed the Alps to avenge my father. 
I laid siege to Toulouse. Need I continue to relate my misfortunes ?" 

" Not on my account, my lord. The particulars you have just related 
suffice to inform me with whom I have to deal. I have only to ask you 
who the fourth warrior of your party is?" 

" This weeping willow " 

" I am a poor devil of a wanderer in search of fortune," hastily interposed 
Maragougnia. " My wants are as modest as my means : I know how to be 
satisfied with little." 

" I treat my customers according to their tastes and their purses," said 
Ali Pope. " You have, noble sirs, asked for a good many things. I will 
now give you a sketch of the accommodation I have to ofler. I have but 
one room and one bed to let " 

" I'll take it, then," said Porc-en-Truie, promptly : " I wouldn't sleep out 
of doors to-night for the world. I shall not resume my journey till to-morrow. 
In the meantime, though, if either of you wishes to have half the bed " 

" Thanks, I shall push on to-night," said Maragougnia, as he left the 
room to find his squire, and tell him not to give the horses a feed. " They 
will find grazing on the road," he remarked. 

" As for me," said Mont-Rognon, " I give up the room to you with all 
my heart. I intend to spend the night in eating. I shall not start till 
to-morrow morning." 

"I'll keep you company till then," said Allegrignac; "we have a few 
bottles and an old dispute to settle. You owe me a dozen, and I'll bet you 
that you'll be under the table by the ninth. I feel just in the humour for 
the trial to-day." 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 1 63 

A scornful smile was the only answer vouchsafed by Mont-Rognon, 
who turned to the host, and asked, " What soup do you think you can 
give us ?" 

"Can your lordship put up with pomegranate soup?" 

" Let us see the pomegranates." 

Ali ran to his larder, and returned with a basket-full of fruit. Mont- 
Rognon selected a dozen. 

" Don't forget to serve it up warm, and with a slice or two of orange 
in it. What next?" 

" If your lordship will leave it to me, you shall have no reason to com- 
plain. I have been head cook to the King of Mesopotamia for ten years, 
and His Majesty told me, only eight days since, that he has no pleasure in 
eating now I have left him. I would suggest, for soups, pomegranate, 
water-gruel, and ortolan ; for entrees, calves' feet and saffron, and fillet 
of venison with sweetbreads. For the next course, chicken farci a la 
Madame Rupee, heron garnished with woodcocks, roast sucking-pig with 
cameline sauce." 

" I should like well enough a quarter of whale served up on a layer of 
eggs," said Allegrignac, carelessly. 

"You might have had it this morning. Unfortunately, they had the 
last of it for King Marsillus to-day." 

" You will give us, instead, a peacock. You will stuff it with chest- 
nuts and saffron, and serve it up with fennel and powdered sugar." 

" I can also offer your lordships dory with orange-juice, and lampreys 
with lily sauce." 

" Is that all ?" 

" Yes, sir. The bill of fare is simple, but select ! " 

" Now, by Lenten fasts ! you want to starve us to death," said Mont- 
Rognon. " You must improve this poor fare, Master Head Cook of the 
King of Mesopotamia. Let us have ragout of venison, salt quarter of 
hare, preserved cabbage, puree of foreign figs a la Sardanapalc, pigs' chitter- 
lings with sweet wine sauce, and ribs of beef in honey. Now, be off to 
your kitchen, and if we want anything else, we'll let you know." 

Ali made a low bow, and was about to leave the room. 

" One word more," said Allegrignac. " Don't forget to send up the 
roasts on the spit, and, above all, be particular about the wine Don't be 
afraid of sending up plenty of bottles." 

" And, stay, landlord ! " said Porc-en-Truie, " as you go you can show 
me my room. Farewell, Alleo-risznac ! Your hand, Mont-Rognon! Good 



164 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



luck to you, Maragougnia ! I shall be asleep, no doubt, when you 
start. I trust you will succeed, and take back to the Emperor what he 
wishes." 

" We shall be sufficiently fortunate if we take back a whole skin ! " 
sighed the Count of Riom, preparing to depart. 

In the next chapter you will see how the four knights set about 
the accomplishment of Charlemagne's wishes. 




1 1'ai.s on 1" 




The bebt bed-room. 



CHAPTER III. 

HOW ALLEGRIGNAC, MARAGOUGNIA, PORC-EN-TRUIE, AND MONT-ROGNON OPENED 

THE CAMPAIGN. 

PORC-EN-TRUIE followed Ali, who conducted him to the first floor, 
where they entered a chamber that was shabby enough in appearance 

in all conscience. 

"Are you silly enough to think of putting me to sleep here ?" 

" It is the best room in the inn. King Marsillus slept here the day " 

" Come ! I hope you are not going to talk more absurdity of that kind to 

me. Learn to understand better those with whom you have to deal. Where's 

the bed ?" 

" Yonder, sir." 

" That a bed ! By the beard of Solomon ! what you have the impudence 

to call a bed would have horrified Job himself, and he passes for a person 

not easily dissatisfied. What is all that hanging about the curtains ?" 

" Those are cobwebs," said Ali, with an air of satisfaction. " We take 

them down when our customers wish it, but they never do." 
"How is that?" asked Porc-en-Truie. 

" Why, you see," said the other, quietly, " the spider is insectivorous." 
"And you dare bring me here?" asked Porc-en-Truie, pale with rage. 
" I dare swear to your lordship there is not a better bed in the house." 
" Let me see yours;" and the knight seized the landlord, and made him 

conduct him to his own bedroom. It was not palatial by any means, but all 

was clean and neat in the host's room, and the bed looked inviting. 

"How, rogue! you would sleep in this lordly bed without a scruple, 



1 66 THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 

while I am served as food for the spiders you rear ! Leave the room, and 
thank Heaven that you leave it by the door instead of the window ! " 

The Lord of Machavoine thrust the landlord out of the room. He, 
poor wretch ! gave up his apartment with a very bad grace, and strove to 
argue the matter, but he got no answer. The shooting of the bolts, the 
creaking of the bed, were soon succeeded by a loud snoring, which deprived 
the defeated wretch of his last hope. 

He was going down-stairs in anything but a good temper, when he heard 
some one moving cautiously at the bottom. The host of the " Crocodile " 
possessed the courage of those cowards who lie in wait to strike, but who 
succumb before a hidden danger or an imaginary one, and shrink from an 
open attack. Porc-en-Truie had kept the lamp — all was buried in complete 
darkness. 

" Who is that ?" asked AH, in a disquieted tone. 

" A friend," answered a voice no less apprehensive. 

The landlord drew from the folds of his tunic one of those formidable 
knives which are still the fashion in Spain, and, having opened it, softly 
descended the last few stairs. 

" Who are you ? — what do you want ?-" 

" Don't speak so loud, for goodness' sake ? Don't you recognise my 
voice ? I am one whom you supplied with radishes an hour since." 

" The knight with the black plume ?" 

"The same. Can I have a word with you in private?" 

" We should find it difficult to discover a more secret and solitary spot 
than this. What is it you wish ?" 

" I should like to stop here a month, unknown to my four travelling 
companions — why, I will tell you later." 

" Nothing is easier. They will leave to-morrow." 

" I want a very humble lodging, which I expect I shall occupy for a 
month. But what I want more than all is your silence." 

" I am as mute as my conscience, and I have a room that will suit 
you to a nicety." And AH flattered himself that he had virtually let the 
lumber-room which had so disgusted Porc-en-Truie. 

He retired for an instant, then returned with a light, and once more 
ascended the stairs, followed this time by Maragougnia. He opened the 
door, entered first, and putting his hand behind the flame to throw a good 
light on the scene, turned and said, with the tone of a man who feels he 
had done the right thing, " There — that's the article for you." 

The sudden appearance of the light put to flight a myriad of little 




The spare-bed at the Crocodile. 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



169 



black specks, that, hustling, scrambling, and running to and fro over the 
walls, finally disappeared in the hangings and wainscot. 

" I want something more unpretending," said Maragqugnia, shading his 
eyes, dazzled by the light. 

Ali could scarcely refrain from expressing his surprise in a shout. 
" More unpretending ! " said he to himself, utterly disheartened. " These 
travellers are all alike — there's no satisfying them ! " But the landlord of 
" The Crocodile" was not the man to let himself be beaten by such a trifle. 
"If you will follow me, I have exactly what you require. I can let it you 
for next to nothing ; " and he led the knight to a wretched outhouse, without 
either air or light, except such as came to it by reversion from the stable. 

" There ! " said Ali, briefly. 

" This will suit me admirably. The smell of a stable is good for the 
lungs, so this atmosphere ought to be very healthy." 

" I let it to invalids," said the landlord, stopping his nose. " Sleep 




An after-dinner nap. 

in comfort ; the straw is this year's ; " and Ali, taking the lamp, left Mara- 
gougnia alone with his thoughts. 

" Go," said the Count of Riom— " go, my dear fellow-travellers ; go and 
get your necks twisted, and your bones broken. Go and seek a ca & stlc in 
the air for the satisfaction of a royal vagary. I, more wise than you, shall 
stop here. Who knows but that fortune may not visit me here?" Thus 
musing, he fell asleep, and dreamt that his squire had obtained for him a 
reduction of rent by turning the spit in the inn kitchen. 

When the host re-entered the supper-room he was astonished to see 
the table overturned, with its legs in the air, and Allegrignac and Mont 

w 



170 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



Rognon making a bed of it. They were sound asleep, far gone in that 
state of intoxication of which in after years the Templars afforded so many 
instances. Wrapt, up in the most brotherly way in the table-cloth, they 
reposed on a heap of odds and ends and broken crockery. The lamp had 
succumbed to the general disaster, and was sputtering and mouldering in 
the ruins of a venison pasty. 

" Bravo ! " said Ali, rubbing his hands. " These are the sort of 
customers I like. Furniture never gets faded with them, for one is always 
having new." With that he set himself to break whatever had escaped 
the general smash ; he even brought in a few damaged chairs, and dis- 
tributed them artistically in fragments all over the room. Then, having 
picked up some gold pieces that had fallen on the floor, he went and lay 
down in the stable till morning. 

Mont-Rognon, whose normal state was semi-intoxication, was the first 
to wake next day. He gazed unmoved on the scene 
of destruction in the midst of which he had slept, 
and then went out into the yard to give himself a 
washing at the trough. Ali Pepe, hearing him on 
the move, immediately made his appearance. 

" Listen, landlord," said the Lord of Bourglastic, 
" I like your style of cookery, and your wine suits 
my palate. I should like to stop here a month ; but, 
for reasons best known to myself, 1 wish my fellow- 
travellers not to know that I have put up here. When 
that drunken fellow who dined with me last night 
wakes up, you must tell him I started without wait- 
ing for him. You will do the same with that sluggard 
up-stairs, and when they are fairly off, come and let 
me know. I will take your dining-room for a month, 
and I intend never to quit the table. I shall not stir 
out, and nobody save you must come near me. 1 
will defray the charges, including this last dinner, but 
I must insist on being well served. Recruit your 
forces, stock your larder and your cellar, for by Bacchus ! you have got a 
tough job before you. Only I warn you, if you tell a single soul that I am 
here, you had better make your will, and order your coffin ! " 

" What an odd lot ! " said Ali, as he went in-doors. " Must I send my 
stingy customer of last night packing ? Or must I tell my drunken friend 
of this morning that he is here ? Pshaw ! They are both afraid of being 




Ali posed. 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 1 7 1 

seen, and won't stir out an inch. One ought not to miss any profits, how- 
ever small." With this reflection he went into the dining-room. 

" Is that you, landlord ? '' asked Allegrignac, without opening his eyes. 
'Can you tell me what has become of my friend?' It's no use for me 
to kick about — he's not in the bed." 

" He is gone, my dear sir — gone quite an hour ago. He said to me, 
' Tell the knight I leave in your room on the ground-floor, that I am 
sorry I cannot stop to say good-bye, for the heat is coming on, and I don't 
wish to delay my journey.' " 

" Oh, so the drunken dog has gone — wonderful ! I suppose he has 
paid ? ' 

" Not he, sir, truly. He told me you would see to that." 

Allegrignac not only opened his eyes at this, but he sat up on end. 
" At any rate, he paid his share ? " 

" He has not given me a penny piece ; he told me he had won a 
wager of you." Before Ali had finished the sentence Allegrignac was 
on his legs. "You're no better than a brigand, and I'll wring your neck 
for you ! " 

" I swear to you I have not received a farthing this blessed morning ! ' 

" Well, well," said the Count of Salencon, recovering his good humour, 
" I'm well enough off not to bother myself about a trifle like that. So 
you tell me my bed-fellow is really gone ? " 

" He is." 

" And the one who was here last night, too ? " 

" You saw him go yourself." 

" True. Then, if I calculate rightly, there's only one more of us left." 

" The one who is snoring in my bed," sighed Ali, spitefully. 

" Very well, then ; open your ears wide, and listen attentively to what 
I say. If you let a syllable escape you, you and I shall quarrel. For 
reasons that I need not state, I wish to put up at your inn for a 
month." 

" He, too ! " thought Ali. " What is going to happen to the house ? " 

" You will choose me apartments opening on the garden. I shall not go 
out, and nobody must have access to me save you and the sun. You will 
have the room adorned with flowers. I never grumble at the accounts which 
innkeepers present to me. I satisfy myself with the explanation that they 
are not strong in their arithmetic ; I am not myself, either. But I insist on 
being treated well. One word more : you give me the idea of a man who is 
rather proud of his ears. I always respect people's tastes, but I shall be 



172 THE FORTRESS OF PEAK. 

compelled to deprive you of those ornaments if you mention to a single 
soul that I have stayed here. You understand me ? " 

" Clearly ! " 

" Then lead me to my prison ! " 

It was not long before Allegrignac was duly installed. His furniture 
consisted of a bed, a table, some flowers, and a guitar. He ordered breakfast, 
and desired to be left to himself. 

" I am curious to learn what these strange people want here," said 
Ali, as he went up-stairs. " I only hope the fourth knight won't take 
possession of my bed for an indefinite period. Let us try and get him 
out of it at once." 

The host gave a vigorous push at Porc-en-Truie's door. 

" Sir ! you bade me call you in good time. The sun has been up some 
hours. Are not you going to start i " 

" Come in ! " said the Lord of Machavoine. " I want to have a word 
with you." 

" But, my dear sir, I can't come in. You shut yourself in when you 
turned me out, and I know from experience that one cannot break in the 
door." 

Porc-en-Truie was reluctantly compelled to get out of bed and open 
the door, jumping into bed again, however, immediately, and turning his 
face to the wall. 

" Do you know this bed is delicious ! I have slept splendidly in it, 
and I am not such a fool as to go scouring the highways while I can get 
a good rest here. Listen to me attentively, and don't let me have to repeat 
anything, for I'm dying for sleep. You will place beside me on a table a 
venison pasty, two cold dishes, some preserved fruit, and thirty bottles of 
wine. Thirty — you hear ? " 

" Only too well ! " 

" Once a week you will come in on tip-toe, and lay the repast afresh. 
I am going to take a nap — you may call me in a month's time." 

" I trust you won't think of doing so — keeping me out of my bedroom 
for a month " 

" I warn you that I do not know how much money there is in my 
purse, and that I sleep so soundly, you might rob me of it without my 
opening my eyes. Ah, by the way, I forgot ! As I don't wish to be 
disturbed, I command you not to tell a soul that I am here. I don't care 
a bit if your inn is on fire, if the enemy is coming, or an earthquake happens. 
I mean to have my sleep out. Above all, don't let my fellow-travellers 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 1 73 

know of my determination. Nothing less than your life or death depends 
on that. Now, set everything out properly here, and don't let me hear 
any more of you for a month." 

"Sir — sweet sir — dear sir — -great sir!" sighed the host, little elated at 
the prospect of sleeping for the next thirty nights in the stable, " can't 
you choose some other resting-place ? I can assure you, that if you go 
nearly as far as Montella — about half a day's journey from here — you will 
find a magnificent hotel, where you will be infinitely better lodged than 
here. Are you listening to me, my dear sir ? " 

A vigorous snore proved to Ali that he was simply throwing away 
his eloquence. To make quite sure the knight was asleep, the landlord 
began to inspect his purse, but Porc-en-Truie did not stir. 

" Well, this is sleeping like a nobleman," said Ali, not half satisfied 
by the self-appointed award of a handful of gold pieces. " For this amount 
I can afford to let him finish his nap ! " 




tf^w5t$l$:l 



Porc-en-Truie sleeps. 




The landlord's capital. 



CHAPTER IV. 



ALI PEPES LITTLE HARVEST. 



ALLEGRIGNAC, Porc-en-Truie. Mont-Rognon, and Maragougnia con- 
l tinued to dwell in unconscious propinquity. 

"Who can tell what has become of my companions ?" said all four, each 
to himself. " They have perished beyond doubt, or are prisoners at best. 
Faith ! that's their look-out ! Success is very properly the prize of superior 
intelligence." 

For a whole month Porc-en- Truie slept, Mont-Rognon ate, AUegrignac 
played the guitar in a whisper, and Maragougnia plotted impossible mean- 
nesses. 

On the twenty-eighth day of his captivity Mont-Rognon greeted Ali 
with a smile which he struggled to make as gracious as possible. Ali was 
terrified to see it, dreading lest his customer should ask him for credit on 
the strength of such an act of condescension. 

" Sit down here opposite to me," said Mont-Rognon, growing every 
moment more agreeable to AH, who was growing every moment more uncom- 
fortable. " I am tired of eating alone. Besides, I have something to say 
to you." 

The landlord sat down, poured himself out a bumper, and listened. 

" Since 1 have been here I have watched you closely, and the result of 
my examination is favourable to you. Occupied as I have been, it was 
impossible for us to exchange much talk, but it was enough to make me 
appreciate you. I recognise in you one of those bold spirits who, regarding 
life as a journey, reject from the outset whatever may encumber their progress. 
Conscience is to them a stranger whose name gives rise to a smile, and remorse 
a bugbear invented by the weak to restrain the strong. They only require 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



175 




Mont-RognoiVs wink. 



in life that which it is able to offer, but they are not of the kidney to forego 
one single opening for enjoyment, let the price be what it may. People 
of my way of thinking are always ready to encourage that spirit. Do you 
comprehend ?" 

"That depends on what is to follow. I'll tell you presently. Go on ! " 

" I travel, as you have been told, in the gastronomical interests of 
various sovereigns. One of them, whose name I choose to withhold, has 
sent me to this country with a mission so truly extraordinary that I dread 
to impart it to you." 

" Fear not, sir. I flatter myself I shall understand 
you. 

" The king, whose envoy I am, has a daughter as 
fanciful as she is beautiful, and he is the slave of 
her lightest caprice. She has read in some writer of 
this country that the Saracens owe the clearness of 
their complexion to a peculiar ointment. I am really 
afraid to tell you of what it is composed." 

" Don't be afraid of anything with me, sir." 

" Well, then, they say that one must have, to 
make it properly, a human head " 

" Ah ?" said Ali, pushing back his chair ; " you are terribly plain to 
understand, — rest assured of that ! " 

" They assert that for this purpose the heads of the inhabitants of 
these parts are superior to all others. I have unluckily promised to procure 
one, and if I fail to keep my word, my own head, for lack of better, will 
have to serve the princess's turn. They persuaded me that to ensure the 
preservation of the beauty of young girls was an act of philanthropy, and 
I foolishly committed myself to the undertaking. I offer with all my heart 
one-half oi the sum promised me to any one who will assist me out of my 
scrape." 

"And how much have you been promised?" said Ali, bringing his 
chair to the table again. 

" A hundred ounces. Do you know any respectable man of business 
who will undertake to supply such an article as I have named ? " 

" Possibly — but all trouble deserves payment. If I act as your go- 
between shall I sfet nothing-?" 

" Your claim is a fair one. I promise you fifty ounces — twenty-five 
for him, and twenty-five for yourself." 

" You shall have what you require." 



176 THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 

" To-morrow ?" 

"This evening! But you must pay me half in advance. If you were 
to change your mind, and leave me with the goods on my hands " 

" Between men of honour " 

" Between men of honour like us it is right to take precautions." 

" Well ! There's the money." 

Ali Pepe took the gold, counted it, tried each coin in succession, weighed 
them with an air of wisdom, and said, quietly, " The money is quite correct ; 
you shall have just the sort of article you want; and, what is more, I'll throw 
you the sack in ! " With these words he left the apartment. 

It was Allegrignac's lunch-time; so the host went up-stairs to the count's 
room, and found him plunged in deep thought. 

"Tell me, Ali Pepe," said he, "did you ever happen to be married?" 

" Never, sir. I am the oldest representative of a race which will die 
with me." 

"Then you cannot understand my sufferings !" 

"Your sufferings, my dear sir?" 

" My heart is bursting, and I feel I can trust myself with you. Listen to 
my history, and sympathise with your unhappy guest. My early life was passed 
in bliss on the shores of the Sarmatian Sea, till one day I met the daughter 
of the King of Scandinavia. This marvel of the North had a skin as white 
as snow, hair as golden as sunlight, and she was as plump as a partridge. 
Her beauty dazzled me, and I swore I would die to serve her— " 

" Your worship will excuse me if I beg you to commence your history 
at the conclusion. I have several customers waiting below." 

" I will be brief. It is the custom in certain cold regions for every 
young girl who has reached her seventeenth year to make a tour for a couple 
of months to look out for a husband. Those who make any impression on 
her, or on whom she makes an impression, accompany her home to her father, 
who then makes his choice amono- the suitors. The fair Wahallaaka had 

o 

just reached her seventeenth year, when I fell in with her at the close of 
the circuit. My attention was first attracted by the splendour of the sledge 
in which she rode. It was drawn by thirty wolves, which shook the crimson 
silk tassels and jingled the steel chains of their harness. Seven hundred 
and sixty-seven suitors rode behind her. The eyes of the fair Scandinavian 
met mine, and she felt at once that her journey was completed. Could she 
meet with a more suitable husband ? She was not foolish enough to suppose 
so ; and, giving me a sign to join the cortege, she gave the order to return 
to Khetakous-Mouvoska'i'a, which is the capital of her father's dominions. 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 1 77 

He, a man full of judgment and taste, confirmed his daughter's choice, 
and it was decided that at the expiration of two months I should become 
the husband of the beauteous Wahallaaka. For fifty days we had a succession 
of festivals. Sledge races by torchlight were followed by balls and concerts. 
White bear-hunting, whale-catching, and a thousand other innocent diversions, 
furnished me with opportunities for the display of my brilliant intelligence, 
my strength, my courage, my address, my presence of mind, my grace, my 
agility, my " 

Ali Pepe threw an imploring glance at Allegrignac. 

" I will be brief. Nothing in this world is perfect, and the incom- 
parable Wahallaaka had her share of imperfections. She was given to 
flirting and fibbing : she was fickle, she was foolish, she was vain, she was 
rash." 

" Sir ! " sighed the count's wretched listener. 

" I will be brief. You are right ; why should I open again these 
scarce-healed wounds ? A page one day brought me a letter from my 
future bride. ' Go,' it said ; ' leave me, to prove your love for me. The 
ties which are about to unite us are so serious that I wish, before con- 
firming them irretrievably, to assure myself that I have not been mistaken 
in my choice of you. Go ; during your absence I intend to give myself, 
without reserve, to all the pleasures of society. I shall do everything I 
can to forget you, and if in a year's time, when you return, I still love 
you, then, my knight, I will be your bride. You will go to Spain. I do 
not give you that Eden for your place of exile without good reason. They 
assert that the men there are the handsomest in the world. Well, my 
betrothed, when your time comes to return, choose one of the finest of 
these wretches, cut off his head, and bring it to me, that I may judge 
with my own eyes of the beauty of the barbarian type.' " 

" Well done ! " thought Ali ; " here are my four guests beginning again. 
In everything they do they follow suit, and I feel sure the other two will 
make the same request. What is to be the end of this ? " 

"'Should you triumph in this trial,' added the fair Wahallaaka, 'from 
that moment none shall be as dear to me as you.' When I read this 
letter my heart was torn with conflicting passions, but I had the strength 
of mind to leave without seeing my beloved. For a whole year I dragged 
out my miserable existence in all quarters of the globe. Now, however, 
my time of trial is past, and I am about to return to my beloved country. 
One thing alone remains to do. Can I present myself to her, who is so dear 
to me, without offering her that head which is the object of her desires?" 

x 



178 THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 

" But how is it that, brave and mighty as you describe yourself to be, 
you have not already procured it ? " 

" The reason is clear, as you will see. I am in the ordinary affairs 
of life a very lion for courage ; the panther and white bear I care not a 
jot for ; but as soon as the idea of fighting- presents itself — -whenever I 
find myself in the presence of danger — I tremble, lest I should prove 
unworthy of the fair Wahallaaka. The thought unnerves my arm, and 
a child might conquer me. In short — I'll give you forty ounces for your 
head." 

Ali scowled at the knight. " If it be to finish in this manner that 
your worship has taken the trouble to relate this history, we might both 
of us have employed our time better." 

"If your head appears to me the finest model of Oriental beauty, there 
is no reason for you to be offended. You appear to be attached to it : 
well, let's say no more about it, but get me for the same price some 
other specimen of the Asiatic tribes." 

" How much did you say you were willing to give ?" 

" Forty gold pieces." 

"You won't get anything worth looking at for that sum ? Everything 
has risen in price since the war." 

" Well, then, fifty pieces." 

"Say sixty pieces — thirty down, and I'll promise you the best that can 
be had." 

" I am anxious to start, remember." 

" You shall have what you want by to-morrow." 

" Very well ! I rely upon you to keep your word." 

Ali, as soon as he had the thirty pieces safe in his pocket, went down- 
stairs, and entered the apartment of the knight of Machavoine. Porc-en- 
Truie was not asleep. 

"I thought so," said the innkeeper to himself; "here's the sleeper as 
wide awake as a squirrel," and he made as if he would go out again. 

" Come in," said the knight, " I have something to talk to you about." 

" I am all attention," said Ali, bowing-. 

" I leave to-morrow ! " 

"So soon?" said Ali, looking at his long-lost bed with affectionate 
interest. 

" That depends on you. Travellers like to carry away some little 
remembrance of places they have visited, and I have too much reason to 
be pleased with my treatment here not to keep up the custom. What do 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 1 79 

you advise me to get ? You see, you must aid me in choosing, for I 
haven't stirred out, and know nothing about the place." 

" Our grapes are very fine here in the north of Spain. Possibly " 

" No. That won't do. I want something that will keep." 

" The young girls of our country come from ten leagues round to 
Alagon to buy plated gold and silver trinkets, and necklaces of seed-pearl 
and coral." 

" You must find out something better than that." 

" Your worship puzzles me. The country has nothing else remarkable 
to offer except its inhabitants; but, of course, I could not offer you one of 
our people to take away." 

"That's a notion! It suggests an idea to me — only it is so peculiar 
I hardly like to mention it." 

" Pshaw ! a little shyness will soon wear off." 

" I'll give you a thousand guesses, and you'll puzzle your brains over 
it in vain to all eternity." 

" Then, sir, don't let me have to guess." 

" You say your knaves here are handsome ? " 

" They have adorable almond-shaped eyes, red lips, white teeth, and 
complexions of a delightful olive, covered with black down." 

" You only speak of their heads." 

" I have a reason for doing so, for it is the only good thing they possess; 
for which reason our girls are accustomed to say, ' The heart of Castile, 
the soul of Catalonia, the form of Leon, the limbs of Navarre, and the 
head of Arragon make a perfect man.' " 

" By my faith ! the idea is a jolly one, and I must give you all credit 
for having been the first to think of it." 

" Your honour is too good. You accredit me with more spirit than 
I possess." 

" Since you originated the notion, you must assist me to put it into 
execution. Well, then, how can you get me the head of an Arra- 
gonese ? " 

" What ! you wish to take away a real head — a living head ? " 

" Living is scarcely the word — but a head that has been alive." 

" Well, that is an idea that no one has had before you." 

" I hope so." 

" Our country, sir, is a wonderful one, for this reason — that you can 
get whatever you want, provided you have the money. If, therefore, you 
will allow me to manage " 



l8o THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 

" Do so, and do so quickly. That is all I require, and I shall leave 
to-morrow." 

" I must have thirty pieces of gold in advance. The game you want 
is strictly preserved, and difficult to procure, Nothing inspirits the hunter so 
much as to be paid ready money." 

So Ali added thirty more pieces to the sixty he had already received, 
and hastened off to hide it in a secret spot known only to himself. 

" Now I'll go and see my fourth customer. I am curious to learn 
what he has to propose to me." 

Maragougnia had not during the whole month left the horrid little hole 
which he had chosen for his lodgings. Anxious to make a profit by his 
isolation, he had spent the time in deshabille, in order to save his clothes. 
When Ali entered he found the knight patching his shirt with his pocket- 
handkerchief. " You come just at the right moment ; I wish to speak 
to you." 

" I am listening." 

" I hope you will not take amiss what I have to say to you, nor mis- 
understand my intentions. I think I ought first of all to tell you that I 
am even more wretched than I look. You will understand, of course, that 
it is not from a feeling of greed that a man denies himself everything as I 
do. I should certainly not despise the good things of life if I had the 
means of getting them. Picture to yourself that my misery is such " 

" Excuse me," said Ali, sharply ; " I see that you are going to take an 
hour in framing a demand which could be expressed in a few seconds. I 
am quite willing to give up my time to those who pay me, but you are 
either too poor or too stingy to justify my so doing. You want a Saracen's 
head, and yon are afraid to ask for it." 

"Good heaven! who could have told you that?" 

" You yourself." 

"I? When?" 

"You talk in your sleep, sir, and are more communicative then than 
when you are awake. I sleep in the stable close by, and have overheard 
you. Now that you see I am so well informed as to your wants, let's settle 
the matter at once." 

Maragougnia became infinitely whiter than his shirt. 

" I can procure you what you want. But you must understand perfectly 
that it is not a stock article, so I must have a good price. Fifty pieces of 
gold down, and fifty more to-morrow on delivery." 

Maracrouo-nia fell fainting: on the floor. Ali feared for a moment that 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. l8l 

lie had gone too far. The knight's heart no longer beat, his body was 
icy cold, his breathing had stopped. 

"Come, come!" said Ali, "recover yourself. You shall have it for 
ninety-five pieces, or say ninety, in consideration of my having waited on 
you for a month." 

The Count de Riom did not stir. 

" Well, we will fix it at eighty-five, but I won't abate a penny." 

The knight opened his right eye. 

" Come, I am less hard than I look," said the innkeeper, rubbing 
Maragougnia's hands. " I will make you an offer." 

The dying man opened his other eye. 

" Must you have a head ? because — I'll tell you what, I have an order 
for a head on hand, I'll let you have the remnant cheap." 

The knight closed his eyes again, and sank back motionless. 

" That doesn't suit you ? Well ! say no more about it. I am going 
to show you how willing I am to serve you by lowering my demands." 

The knight's eyes re-opened, and his heart began to beat again. 

" Say eighty pieces, but I shan't come down any lower." 

Ali rose to go. Maragougnia gave a heavy sigh, that would have 
softened the heart of a famished tiger, but made no impression on the 
innkeeper. 

" Eighty pieces of gold ! Why, it is more than I should spend in eight 
years. You'll reduce me to beggary." 

" Pshaw ! you are no better off now." 

" You might as well take my life." 

" You may accept my offer or leave it. People 
don't buy things of this sort every day. Will you have 
it ?— Oxce ! " 

" I'd rather die." 

" Twice ! " 

" Ten pieces — I'll give you ten pieces." 

" Thrice! " 

Si. 

" Wait a minute ! one must take time to think over „, , , ,. 

Miserable Maragougnia. 

such bargains." 

"Well, I'll come back presently, but I vow you will regret not having 
taken my offer at once." 

Ali went out, leaving Maragougnia pale, trembling, broken-hearted, a 
prey to a thousand conflicting emotions. 





The "Crocodile" at night. 




CHAPTER V. 

HOW ALT PEPE, HAVING DONE ALL THAT COULD BE EXPECTED OF AN HONEST 

MAN, WAS HANGED. 

HAT evening the doors of the inn 
were closed earlier than usual. Ali 
had given his servants a holiday to go to 
the fair at Montclla, and was thus left alone 
with his four lodgers. He locked all the 
doors, put up the chain at the front gate, 
ascertained that the shutters were closed, 
all of which were precautions he did not 
usually take. Then he went down into 
the cellar, where there was a collection of 
weapons of all descriptions. He selected a 
large knife, which he carefully sharpened ; 
put on a shirt of mail, as easy-fitting as 
silk, but perfectly sword-proof; put on a 
helmet of extraordinary shape, which com- 
pletely concealed his face, and went up-stairs again softly. On arriving at 
the top of the stairs he put out his lamp, and stole forward on tiptoe. He 
stopped in succession at the doors of the four knights, and peeped through 
the keyhole to see what they were doing. Mont-Rognon was at his eighth 
bottle; Porc-en-Truie was asleep; Allegrignac was taking the fresh air in 
die garden ; Maragougnia was furtively counting his money. 



Mur.ler a-foot. 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 1 83 

"Good!" said AH to himself. " In one hour the gentleman who is at 
supper will have finished his ninth bottle, and tumbled under the table ; 
the one who is dozing will be snoring soundly ; the one who is meditating 
will be asleep; and as to the fourth -" 

The proprietor of the " Crocodile " said no more ; he had reached the 
stable, where he flung himself down on the straw. 

At midnight Allegrignac woke up in a fright. He thought he heard 
a piercing cry. 

" Somebody's having his throat cut," said the Count de Salencon. He 
sat clown on the foot of his bed and listened. All was silent ; you might 
have heard the spiders spinning their webs. 

" I wasn't dreaming, nevertheless — no ; I am sure I heard a cry." 

He continued to listen, and now the silence made him tremble. He 
remembered his bargain with the innkeeper. The idea that he was the 
instigator of the crime which undoubtedly had just been committed deprived 
him of sleep. He dressed himself, and sat himself clown on the side of his 
bed, with his drawn sword in his hand. In a quarter of an hour two more 
shrieks resounded through the night. Allegrignac sprang up as briskly 
as if in obedience to a hidden spring. These renewed cries alarmed 
him. 

"Everybody is having his throat cut!" said he to himself, growing 
more and more frightened. " My conscience has only to answer for one 
of the crimes ; so, if Master Ali is too zealous, I am not responsible." 

As a precaution, he rolled his bed against the door, put the table and 
chairs on the top of it, and kept watch. The rest of the night passed 
peaceably and quietly. The moon accomplished her nocturnal round, and 
when the sun reappeared, Allegrignac, ashamed of his panic, restored every- 
thing to its place. At seven o'clock Ali knocked at the door. 

" Here is what you want," said he, placing a small sack on the count's 
bed. " Have you the money ready ?" 

" There it is." 

" I should recommend you to lose no time in setting out, for I think 
I saw one of your companions this morning." 

Allegrignac did not wait to hear this advice repeated. He went 
down-stairs, and, finding his horse ready at the door, he tied the sack to 
the saddle-bow, set spurs to his nag, and rode off at a gallop. Ali smiled 
to see him go, and then, when he was no longer in sight, turned into the 
apartment of the Baron of Mont-Rognon. 

"I have obeyed your orders, sir. Here is what you required." And 



1 84 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



he flung a sack on the table, as he had already done in the case of 
Allegrignac. 

" There is the sum we agreed on," said the baron, tendering him the 
twenty-five pieces. "Saddle my horse, I am in a hurry to be off!" 

"It is ready saddled," said the landlord, taking the money; "your 
honour will find it at the foot of the stairs." 

Mont-Rognon went out for the first time for a month. He attached 
the small sack to the saddle-bow as AllegrigTiac had done, and in a few 
minutes was out of sight. Ali did not on this day enter the two rooms 
occupied by Porc-en-Truie and Maragougnia. He spent his time in counting 
his money. 

" Fifty gold pieces from the drunken knight, plus forty for his keep, 
will be ninety. Sixty from the talkative knight, plus thirty-five for his 
board and lodging, will be ninety-five. That makes one hundred and 
eighty-five pieces in all, if I know anything of arithmetic. Add to this 
the purses of the lazy knight and the knight of the raven plumes — the 
one containing one hundred and fifty and the other a hundred and forty 
pieces, amounting to two hundred and ninety — which I must add to one 
hundred and eighty-five, leaving a total four hundred and seventy-five 
pieces of good new money. This is more than one wants to begin 
life with honestly, so I can afford myself that little whim — and will do so!" 

Ali Pepe was unable to realise this laudable purpose. He was hanged 
eight days after, as you, my young friends, will learn, if you continue to 
read this history. 




The end vt All. 



The friendly dwarf. 



CHAPTER VI. 

SHOULDER TO SHOULDER, FACE TO FACE ! 

CHARLEMAGNE was playing at chess with Naymes, Duke of 
Bavaria, for a couple of hours, when he was informed that 
Allegrignac had returned. The Emperor, who had lost five games out 
of seven, was in anything but an agreeable mood. The news of the 
count's arrival completely cured him. 

" At last we shall learn the truth about the Fortress of Fear. I 
feel sure Allegrignac will have acted vigorously and wisely. Fetch him 
a stoup of wine while I go to assemble my peers, barons, bishops, and 
clerks. I will hear what he has to say before them." 

When these orders had been carried out, Charlemagne caused the 
Count of Salencon to be summoned into his presence. 

" Approach, Allegrignac. You have proved yourself, I doubt not, 
possessed of endurance and bravery. I shall be glad to have to award 
the prize to you. Tell us what happened to you." 

" I am, sire, overcome at the thought of my great good fortune, and 
seek in vain for any past good deed of mine which has won for me the 
favour which Heaven lavishes on me. I will take care not to abuse your 
kindness, or the patience of so many learned and gallant listeners. I 
will begin my story from the moment when I left Alagon for the Fortress 
of Fear. Dawn was breaking when I started. The darkness which was 
still spread over the earth was beginning to vanish at the approach of the 
sun, whose welcome was being chanted by the lark. I was asking myself 
how so lovely a country could bring one to so dire a fortress, when my 
horse gave a start, stopped, and, lowering its head, began to snort loudly. 
I then saw, a short distance from me, a little dwarf, not illdooking, who 
sat weeping by the road-side. ' While there is yet time,' said he, ' abandon 
this insane adventure, and do not disturb the ereat master of Fear. Seeino 
you so young and so lovely, I cannot restrain my tears. Did you but 

Y 



1 86 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



know what obstacles you will find opposing you, you would certainly not 
encounter them.' ' I am the envoy of Charlemagne,' said I, quietly. 
' Ask yourself, then, if I am a man likely to draw back.' I had hardly 
mentioned your name, sire, when I beheld the dwarf flying in alarm. I 




The Emperor at chest. 



went on. A little farther on my horse made a second start, and I iound 
myself face to face with a giant, who was in command of a body of 
twelve armed men. He had a foot placed on either side of the road, like the 
old Colossus of Rhodes, and his men were drawn up, lance in rest, between 
his legs, seeking to bar my passage. 

"'Whose servant are you, miscreant?' cried I. 'Mahomet has my 
faith — the Lord of Fear my allegiance.' ' And I will have your life. Hurrah 
for Charlemagne ! ' I Hung my lance at the monster with such force and 
skill that it pierced his body, and lodged in the ground, point downward, 
fifty paces off. I drew my sword, and rode at his twelve followers, whom I 
routed. Although charging at full gallop, I had the forethought to recover 
my lance on the way. By the time these enemies recovered themselves I was 
already in the midst of other perils. What more need I say? In vain 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



I8 7 



did the elements assist the efforts of men and demons ; strong in my loyalty 
to my king, I overcame all obstacles ! " 

Charlemagne liked people to talk modestly, and the praises which 
Allegrignac did not cease to lavish on himself made him frown. " Action 




The giant. 



is young man 



is for men, and words for women," said he to himself. " Th 
talks a little too much." 

"Human strength has its limits," continued Allegrignac; "even mine 
is exhaustible, and, taking advantage of an interval of quiet, I dismounted 
to take a rest. I was a short way from the top of a high mountain, on 
which the Fortress of Fear is built. I had a long time left the temperate 
zone, and was surrounded by snow. All of a sudden " 

"I'll wager his next words are a falsehood!" whispered Roland to 
Turpin. 

" Nonsense ! You're betting on a certainty," said the bishop. 

" All of a sudden my horse gave a terrified neigh. I turned round as 
I sprang to my feet, and beheld an avalanche leaping from rock to rock, 
and coming to swallow us up. I did not waste a moment. I waited it 
with feet firmly planted, and arms outstretched. I caught it and held it 



1 88 THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 

back for some seconds. ' Quick, Serenade!' I cried to my horse. ' Go along, 
make haste, poor beast!' The animal understood my meaning, and escaped. 
It was time, for my strength was just exhausted. I made one final and 
supreme effort, flung the Titanic projectile on one side, and sank — I confess 
it — exhausted on the ground. The brave men who hear me will not ridicule 
my weakness." 

Every one looked at his neighbour. They were more surprised at 
the impudence of the speaker than the strangeness of his story. 

" Enough of this sort of prattle," said Charlemagne. " Here be plenty 
of great deeds — I'll ask for the rest of the story another time. Meanwhile, 
tell me — and as briefly as possible — have you seen the castle and its 



owner 



?' 



" I have seen them, and 1 bring you, sire, the head of the monster 
as an evidence of my victory." 

Allegrignac stooped down to take the bag, which he had placed beside 
him at the beginning of his story, when Mitaine entered and announced 
that the Baron of Mont-Rognon desired an audience. 

" By my beard ! I am curious to see and hear him. Allegrignac, with- 
draw, and let the Knight of Bourglastic speak. Bid the baron enter." 

Mont-Rognon stepped in proudly ; he paused at a few paces from 
Charlemagne, bowed, placed beside him the bag about which we know, 
and waited to be interrogated. 

" I have often reproached myself for having sent you on so formidable 
an adventure, my brave baron ; only the remembrance of your past feats 
of valour could make my mind easy about you. However, you have 
returned." 

" I know not how to express to my Sovereign all my gratitude for 
the honour he does me. I always believed that the joy of victory is the 
greatest in the world, and the beating of my heart assures me that I was 
not mistaken." 

" The joy of victory, do you say ? Of what victory do you speak ? " 

" Of that which I have just won over the Knight of Fear." 

A murmur of surprise was heard on all sides. 

" Come forward, Allegrignac," said the Emperor, in a severe voice. 
" What does this mean, and which of you is the impostor ? " 

The consciences of the two pretended victors were not so clear that 
they could listen without alarm to the infuriated voice of Charlemagne. They 
felt that impudence alone could assist them ; and Allegrignac coming forward, 
pointed to the Knight of Bourglastic, and said — 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 1 89 

" If, sire, this man pretends that he has vanquished the Knight of Fear, 
I declare that he lies." 

"Lies!" cried Mont-Rognon, blinded with rage. "Who dares utter 
the word ?" 

" I, Allegrignac, Count of Salencon." 

" Traitor and perjurer ! you shall not quit this place alive. A disgraceful 
death shall be your fate, and the fate of all belonging to you." And he 
drew his sword. " Yes, you have lied, baron of the realm though you be, 
and I will teach you to change your note, perjured coward ! I shall slay 
you and yours before the humblest lacquey in my service is the worse by a 
hair, for all your bravery." 

" These two cocks," said Oliver, " seem to me to crow too lone before 
they begin fighting. It would be mockery to separate them." 

Charlemagne raised his voice, and silence was at once restored. 

" I find you daring enough," said he, "to deafen me with your clamour. 
This insolence is insufferable. The first who speaks without being questioned 
shall be punished ; understand that, one and all ! " and then he added, 
after a moment, " What proof have you of the victory you say you have 
won ? Speak, Allegrignac." 

" I have the head of the monster in this bag." 

"And you, Mont-Rognon, what have you to say?" 

" This man is an impostor. I have here what will prove him so." 

The Knight of Bourglastic seized his 
bag, and opened it; the Count of Salencon 
did the same, and then each held up a 
gory head for Charlemagne's inspection. 

At this sight the Emperor turned pale. 
He rose, and seemed anxious to speak, but 
could only utter the one word, " Murderers !" 

The whole assembly gave a cry of hor- 
ror on recognising the heads of Porc-en-Truie 
and Maragougnia ; but the most frightened two heads not better than one. 

of all were assuredly Mont-Rognon and 

Allegrignac, who, letting fall the two accusing heads, flung themselves at 
the Emperor's feet. 

" Sire, do not hold us guilty. We have been the victims of some 
treason. Yes, we confess it ; we were unable to carry out your instructions. 
Terrified and at our wits' end, we lost our heads — " 

Then no one will be surprised this evening to see they are no longer 




190 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



on your shoulders," interposed the Emperor, who thus set a-going a horrible 
joke, which has done service so often since that it has well earned a retiring 
pension. 

The next day, after mass, the Lord of Bourglastic and the Count of 
Salencon underwent a final examination. By vespers Charlemagne had 
sentenced them to death. When the bugles sounded they had been 
beheaded, and flung out to feed the wolves. 

Eight days after Ali Pepe was hanged. 




The dealh of Alle^rignac. 




Mitaine sets forth. 



CHAPTER VII. 



MITAINE OPEXS THE CAMPAIGN. 



CHARLEMAGNE, on one occasion, committed an act of imprudence; 
he promised Mitaine that when she performed any remarkable feat 
of valour, she should be attached to Roland's staff as a squire. From that 
moment she never rested ; ambition constantly haunted her, and, without 
letting any one know her plans, she was always looking out for some oppor- 
tunity of distinguishing herself. The Fortress of Fear seemed an object 
worthy of her labour, and the unfortunate issue of the expedition of the 
four knights induced her to undertake the adventure. " If my friend 
Croquemitaine lives in the castle, I will find him, and prove I am not 
afraid of him." 

She set forth earl)- one morning, accompanied by a young page of her 
acquaintance named Ortez ; and when she found herself at what she believed 
a sufficient distance from the camp to render pursuit impossible, she told her 
companion to return to the Emperor, and inform him that she had resolved 
to find the Fortress of Fear. 

" Tell him not to be alarmed for me ; he shall have no reason to 
blush for his godchild. I hope before long to remind him of his promise 
to make me a squire." 

The page endeavoured in vain to dissuade her from her plan ; in vain 
he threatened her with the anger of Charlemagne. "When I return," said 
she, "he will gladly embrace me." 



192 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



The more he described to her the magnitude of the dangers she would 
encounter, the more determined she was to face them. 

" Well, then, I shall follow you," said Ortez, resolutely. 
" If you do anything of the sort I warn you that we shall quarrel." 
" Do you think I am wanting in courage ?" 

" No ! I know you are brave ; only I do not desire to lessen the merit 
of the deed I am resolved to accomplish by sharing its dangers with you." 

" But it would be dishonourable in me to allow to go alone into danger 
one whom it is my duty to defend," said the lad, planting his little fists on 
his hips. 

" By the Shrine of St. Landri ! you are too importunate, Ortez. Girls 
like me have beak and talons like fully-fledged falcons. Return, then, to 
the camp to inform Charlemagne, and if in three days I do not come back, 
you will pray for a gallant girl who died in the quest of adventure." 

The page was obliged to give way ; he 
returned alone along the road which he had just 
traversed in company with Mitaine, and I will 
not swear that he had not tears in his eyes. 

As soon as she was alone, Mitaine as- 
sured herself that her sword was firmly buckled 
on at her side — that her dagger quitted its 
sheath easily ; then she bent her steps to- 
wards a ruined hut which stood in the midst 
of a vast field of maize. Before long she 
reached it, and saw a peasant seated on the 
ground playing with his children. She was 
struck by his air of profound melancholy, and 
shocked at the wretched appearance of the 
little ones that were rolling about in the dust. 

" Can you tell me the way to the Fortress of Fear ?" 
On hearing this question the peasant rose hurriedly, and stared at 
Mitaine with frightened eyes. The youngsters took refuge between his 
legs as if they expected some calamity. 

"Do you know what you are asking?" said the terrified man. "It 
is doubtless a jest, or a bit of show-off inexcusable in a child of your age." 
" You do not answer seriously a serious question. Not being a native 
of the country, I may not express myself properly ; I believe, however, I 
spoke sufficiently plainly to be understood. Once more I ask you the way 
to the Fortress of Fear." 




The poor peasant. 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



193 



"It is the way to certain death." 

"What does that matter? — it is the way I intend to take. I feel 
certain that they belie the lord of the castle, and wish to put his hospi- 
tality to the test." 

" Here is a madman!" said the peasant to himself, sending the children 
into the hut ; " nevertheless, I must not let him go without having told him 
the danger to which he exposes himself. For sixty years, my young traveller, 
I have inhabited this cottage. Not one of those who have put to me the 
question that you have just asked me has ever returned. At first, the 
people who travelled along this road came singly ; careless, gay, foolish as 
you, they passed singing before my door : the same evening they were the 
captives of Fear. When it was found that there was danger in the voyage, 
there was quite a different sort of procession. Man spends his life in neglecting 
Heaven and courting death. When Death scowls at him, he believes it is 
smiling. The procession never returned. Gallant warriors came, and said 
to me, ' Prepare a breakfast for us to-morrow, good man ; on uur return we 
will make great cheer, and tell you our adventures, and laugh over them.' 
And the feast was wasted for want of guests ; and so, later, when reason 
increased in my brain, as my beard grew on my chin, I made people pay 
in advance, but I made no preparations for 
their return. Then came troops of warriors 
fully armed, amid the flourish of trumpets, 
and with banners floating on the wind. They 
pillaged my house, and their horses wasted 
my crops. Fear made them captives like the 
others, and from that time I have lived alone 
in my ruined habitation, which no one dares 
to approach. I lost my father through his 
rashness, my wife through her curiosity ; 
she left me these children. One of them 
wandered away one day when I was in the 
fields ; what happened to him I have never 
known; he came back to me an idiot. I 
have never quitted this spot, though it is more like a burial-place than a 
birth-place. I am -a solitary dweller on the frontiers of Death, an advanced 
outpost, crying to all such foolish people as you to turn back." 

" I thank you," answered Mitaine ; " but if you had known me, you 
would have taken care not to tell me this history, for it only redoubles my 
desire to meet this dreadful tyrant." 

z 




The miserable < r uide 



194 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



The peasant raised his arms to Heaven, as if to call it to witness the 
efforts he had made ; then he again sat down before his ruined cabin. 

"You must be poor," said Mitaine, feeling in her purse. "Take this; 
you will be my heir if I die, which does not appear to me quite so certain. 
In any case, the money is yours. Pass the night in prayers for my success, 
and in the meantime point out to me the road that I must follow." 

The peasant rose, took Mitaine by the hand, and climbed with her a 
naked height which overlooked the country. 

" You see that footpath which borders the forest ? That you must 
follow. Whither it leads no one knows. Heaven be with you! Farewell!" 

" Let me embrace you," said Mitaine, holding out her arms to the 
peasant, who sank on his knees, as if in the presence of the dead. She 
flung her arms round his neck, and kissed him; the old man wept; one 
of his tears fell on Mitaine's hand, she signed herself with it as if it had 
been holy water; — then she departed. The peasant remained on his knees 
praying until sunset ; after that he sought his miserable home, put his 
children to bed, lit a taper, and again betook himself to prayer until morning. 




The peasant praying 




Vespers. 



CHAPTER VIII. 



THROUGH THE FORESTS. 



THE sun sank down in a flood of purple, the birds were chanting their 
vespers. 

"Come on, Croque-Miton-Mita-Mitaine! " cried the girl. "I would not 
stir from the spot for the spurs of knighthood." 

The sky changed from gold to pale blue, from pale blue to violet, from 
violet to indigo, from indigo to black. A thousand stars peeped out to see 
what was going to happen. A waning moon climbed slowly tip the heavens, 
shedding a feeble light and yellow, as if smitten with fever. The air became 
cooler, a gentle breeze began to stir the foliage, covered with the dust of 
day, and to awaken it to its morning toilet. Every sound was hushed, 
except the rustle of the leaves. The grass had grown so thick and long, 
Mitaine scarcely knew where to set her foot. She was not afraid, and yet, 
as she advanced, her thoughts became more grave. To be self-collected in 
danger is one of the siVns of couracre. A coward loses himself in the 
presence of peril. 

" What am I about to meet with yonder ? What obstacles shall I 
fall in with ? I have always heard my royal godfather say that there is 
nothing one cannot overcome by courage, skill, and perseverance ; it he 
spoke the truth, I have nothing to fear. This Croquemitaine, perhaps, is, 
after all, only a robber chief, profiting by the public panic to pillage the 
passers-by. The passers-by ? — but nobody does pass by, and, as a rule, 
people render pleasing, rather than terrible, the paths that lead to a snare. 
Pshaw ! we shall soon see ! " 

All her past life came back to Mitaine's recollection. She seemed 
as if she should feel less solitary when surrounded by memories of those 



19^ THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 

she loved. She seemed to hear friendly voices. " Be prudent," whispered 
her mother. 

" Be resolute ! " said Charlemagne. 

" Be bold ! " said Roland. 

Thus accompanied, she pushed on with firmer tread, and halted not 
until she reached the border of the forest. As she entered it, her foot 
slipped upon some round slimy object, and a snake wound itself round her 
legr. " So the game is beginning - ," said Mitaine. 

There is room in the human heart for Prudence and Courage, they 
live together like good neighbours, and it would give you, my young 
friends, a very false idea of bravery to suppose that it cannot exist in 
company with caution. 

Mitaine had put on a suit of mail, and she congratulated herself on 
wearing her gauntlets, as she stooped down to seize hold of the reptile. 
She grasped a round and flexible object, and was about to crush it under 
her heel, when she discovered that what she had taken for a serpent was 
only a creeper, which broke in her hand. For an instant she felt ashamed. 

" This is the result of all the stories I have been so lone listening- to 
about this absurd castle. If people had not tried to frighten me, I should 
not even have stooped down." And she continued her route. 

The moon flung her rays over the forest, and Mitaine beheld in the 
distance a number of white menacing shapes. Some had burst their 
shrouds, and allowed their skeleton forms to be seen, clattering at every 
breath of air ; others displayed fearful wounds, in which the weapons yet 
remained ; fleshless arms stretched towards her, and the wind bore to her 
indistinct and threatening murmurs. She allowed herself to be betrayed 
into a gesture of alarm ; immediately the spectres shook their dishevelled 
hair, waved their arms, and began to move towards her. She saw them 
approaching in countless numbers, with menacing aspect and hollow 
moanings. 

" By Roland !" said she, " I believe I'm a little frightened. My godfather 
would blush for me if he knew it." She drew her sword, and rushed on. 

Hardly had the sense of alarm left her, when the appearance of all 
she saw was changed. The spectres vanished, and Mitaine saw before 
her only a few bleached tree trunks, on which the moon shed its rays. 
Instead of wounds, she saw inequalities of the bark ; instead of outstretched 
arms, she saw branches ; instead of unkempt locks, leaves ; while in the 
place of threatening murmurs she heard only the wail of the wind. 

" I'm evidently growing foolish," said she to herself; " I have lost 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. I 97 

my head, and my brain to-night is full of spectres. I must not let myself 
be caught again. " 

Scarcely had the thought passed through her mind when she felt 




The haunted prove 



herself caught by the leg ; this time there was no illusion. She turned 
round quickly, and saw with alarm a grim shape, which struggled out of 
the earth, and flung itself upon her. At the foot of every tree she could 



198 THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 

distinguish like forms buried in the earth breast high, and writhing in 
ago,-,)-. 

Mitaine strove, but in vain, to release her leg; the shape clung to it, 
and its head seemed about to seize her in its jaws. 

" Reality or spectre — dead or alive — I will try how you will take this ; " 
and she struck fiercely at it with her sword. The blow fell upon the root 
of a tree. 

" How is it that I did not see this at once ? I shall never forgive 
myself this foolish fear. I must admit, Master Croquemitaine, that your 
jokes are anything but pleasant. Still, I hope you will give me some- 
thing more serious to do before long, or I shall cut but a sorry figure when 
I come to relate my adventures." 

Observe, my children, that it is almost always thus in life : out of a 
hundred things which terrify you, at least ninety-five will only make you 
smile, if you look them boldly in the face. 

The sky had gradually become covered with clouds ; large drops of 
rain began to fall ; in the distance the thunder rumbled, but so faintly, that 
it seemed only like the snoring of an elephant or a hippopotamus. 

" The greatest danger I run is that of catching cold. The rain has 
already begun, and who can tell when I shall reach the Fortress of Fear? 
This coward of a Croquemitaine has so well concealed his abode, that one 
might just as well look for a pin at the bottom of the sea." 

A terrific clap of thunder was the only answer she received, and the 
glare of the lightning allowed her to distinguish at a short distance the castle, 
which was perched, as if balanced, on the extreme point of a mountain of 
eccentric form. 

" So this, then, is the precious jewel which the}' have taken such pains 
to conceal from all eyes. By my faith ! they were right to conceal it, for 
it appears to me the most hideous in the world." 

Mitaine pushed forward. For a long time she followed the course of 
a ruined wall, when suddenly a flash of lightning cleaving the heavens enabled 
her to discover a horrible monster gazing at her from its crest. It resembled 
the skeleton of a horse, combined with those of an ostrich, a whale, and a 
giraffe. Its enormous head was supported by a disproportionately long neck, 
and its two claws, armed with immense talons, were seeking on the top of 
the wall tor some point of vantage whence to leap upon her. 

Mitaine, taken by surprise, sprang back twenty paces ; the monster 
took as many in advance. She sank upon her knee as it drew near, and 
felt its hot breath blowing upon her. 




The gnarled monster 



Mitaine crosses the torrent. 



' = " ~% 



A A 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 203 

" By the Shrine of St. Landri ! I am acting like a child, and show myself 
little worthy to follow Charlemagne and Roland to battle." 

She sprang up ; the monster immediately recoiled. 

" Will nothing teach me wisdom ? Every obstacle that I meet boldly 
disappears, and yet I allow myself to be stopped by this vile form;" and 
she gave the wall a vigorous kick. The stones fell crumbling, and dragged 
with them a number of creepers and brambles a century old, breaking a 
poor harmless tree which had stood for ages, with its branches resting on 
the wall. Mitaine shrugged her shoulders, and moved on, saying, " As I 
expected ! " 

In a few minutes she found herself in the presence of a more serious 
obstacle. Before her rolled a torrent, which carried down in its rapid waters 
huge blocks of stone, as any other stream would carry down logs. This 
new barrier it was not easy either to overcome or avoid. The night was 
dark, and the moon faint and pale, and half hidden in masses of cloud. It 
seemed rather like a dying watch-fire than a luminary of the first magnitude. 
The water of the torrent gleaming in this half light rushed by with formid- 
able violence, and Mitaine felt her brain swim whenever she looked at it. 
She hurried up and down the bank, seeking in vain for a means of crossing. 
The lightning, as if to confuse her, redoubled its intensity, and showed 
her the castle situated at a short distance on the further shore. At length, 
however, she discovered a tree which lay across the gulf. Every wave as 
it passed had washed away a portion of the bank ; the tree, half uprooted, 
had held its own well for a time, until at last, weary of the struggle, it had 
suffered itself to sink to the ground. 

Mitaine contemplated this means of crossing not without apprehension. 
Tremblingly she placed her foot upon the trunk ; it shook and rocked. 
She hesitated, and as her hesitation increased, so the tree became more 
shaky and uncertain. 

"What!" said she, impatiently; "am I so short a distance from my 
object, and must I draw back because the passage is not quite safe ? No ! 
it is fear that makes me awkward ; every day I accomplish things far more 
difficult than this." 

She set her foot resolutely on the trunk, and found, to her surprise, 
that it grew firmer as she went on. 

" Why, I am on a wooden bridge," said she, when she got half-way 
over. " Nay, indeed, it's a fine stone bridge," she cried, as she reached 
the farther shore. 

Of a truth, my children, fear doubles the importance of most obstacles, 



204 THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 

for it deprives us of half the faculties which should assist us to overcome 
them. Take away the ape's intrepidity and give it to man, and man will 
become as agile as the ape. 

Mitaine saw before her but one road, and set out resolutely along it- 
although it was so narrow that she brushed the rock on either side with 
her shoulders. It was, in fact, less a path than a cleft in the mountain 
side. She pushed forward on tip-toe, wondering a little what she should 
find at the other end of this burrow. Suddenly her head encountered an 
obstacle, and she discovered that the passage had become so low, that 
she must stoop to continue her path. 

"Do they want to bury me alive?" The thought made her hair 
bristle ; and not without reason, I can assure you, for she was in utter 
darkness, with hardly a breath of air, and every instant she felt the four 
walls closing in. 

" Do your best, Croquemitaine ; it shall never be said that I turned 
back, when I had got so close to you." 

She was now compelled to continue her progress on her hands and 
knees. " You will get nothing by it ; I will pay you for this when I meet 
you. 

The ceiling was now so low, that she was obliged to drag herself 
along the ground. " If there be room for a mouse, I'll get through, never 
trust me ! " 

At last, she saw with joy a gleam of light, a few paces further on. 
This feeble ray gave her fresh courage, and she struggled on by dint of 
nails, knees, and feet so well, that in a few seconds she had reached the 
outlet. She was about to breathe again, to live again, to move freely ! 
one more effort, and she would be at liberty ! She perceived that the 
opening at the end of the passage was guarded by a strange sort of 
grating. 

" Well, this complicates the situation ! I should be curious to know 
what my long-bearded godsire would do, if he found himself on all fours 
in this mole-run before these bars. Assist me to get out ot this, St. 
James, and I will offer up to you a prayer of gratitude." 

Mitaine made another movement to approach still nearer to the grating; 
she was about to take the bars in her hand, when she perceived there 
was nothing before her but a spider's web. 

" Thanks, St. James ! you have saved me from a terrible danger." 

But now the spider came down into the middle of his web to defend 
his stronghold, and it was with no common insect that she had to deal. 




The Fortress of Fear. 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



207 



Picture to yonrselves a body as big as your two fists, bloated and hairy ; 
legs by the dozen, vying with each other in agility and flexibility, with two 
pinchers like those of a scorpion, and eyes that gleamed in the dark. 

If Mitaine had had the free use of her limbs she would not have 
taken much notice of such a trifle ; but you must remember that she was 
lying flat upon the ground, hedged in on all sides as close as if in a coffin, 
and that she could only fight the creature by butting at it with her head. 
The spider, taking advantage of her hesitation, set about repairing its net, 
adding thread to thread with frightful rapidity. 

"It is worth one's while to be the godchild of an Emperor, the 
daughter of a knight, the friend of a hero, and, above all, a favourite of 
St. James, in order to run away from a spider. Mountjoy, St. Denis ! let's 
charge the foe ! " She lowered her head, closed her eyes, and pushed her 
way on. The web broke ; she felt her opponent glide over her shoulder, 
and run along her back. She immediately pressed herself with all her 
force against the roof, heard a sound like the breaking of an egg, and 
stepped forth mistress of the field. With what joy did she find herself in 
the open air! How did she rejoice in the rain that beat on her face 
and the whirlwind, whose violence tore up even the stones in her path ! 

Before her rose the Fortress of Fear. 




The yrcat spider 




asa^S 



The outpost of owls. 



CHAPTER IX. 



A NIGHT IN THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



I SHOULD like, my young friends, to give you a horrible — an alarming- 
— a terrific description of the Fortress of Fear. The subject is a 
tempting one enough, but I am the slave of truth, and moreover, imagi- 
nation has built it after such a fashion that every one sees it under a different 
aspect. I can, however, tell you a little about it. 

The F"ortress of Fear is only seen at night, and scarcely can its 
black outline be made out against the black sky. If the moon shows 
herself, it is only with an evil purpose to bring out more, clearly some 
hideous combination of lines. The stones are leperous, and the snakes 
that dwell among them seem like worms that feed on them. Life is 
represented there by the mere refuse of creation — vultures, adders, centi- 
pedes, rats, scorpions, toads, woodlice, and owls ; and yet one could not 
help wondering how even such foul broods as these could inhabit such a 
place. Those who have had the misfortune to behold this ominous sight 
perceive only an irregular line of towers, half fallen into ruins, and resembling 
nothing so much as the fansfs of some ogress seven hundred years old. 
The Fortress of Fear is the oldest of all fortresses ; that it still stands 
is a miracle, for a breath can overthrow it; — and yet it is eternal. Each 
of us reckons an hour in his life in which it has appeared to him ; and even 
the bravest of us must confess to having paid it a visit. 

Mitaine discovered a low portal, almost concealed by the ivy; the 
wood was worm-eaten, the iron was rusty, there was the slim)' track of 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



209 




The entrance to Fear- Fortress. 



a snail across the handle. In the archway roosted a flock of night birds, 
which flew out. expressing their disgust at being disturbed, by melancholy 

B B 



2IO 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



hooting. Mitaine pushed the door — it resisted ; she smote it with the 
pommel of her sword — a hollow sound was the only answer ; for ten 
minutes she struggled in vain to force an entrance, then, losing patience, 
she gave it a vigorous kick with her foot. The woodwork gave way, the 
lock came off, the hinges parted, and the barrier fell inwards. Immediately 
she heard a loud noise, and felt several severe blows. The stonework of 
the arch had given way, and fallen in upon her. Fortunately she was 
not alarmed ; had she shrunk back, she must have been buried in the 
ruins. A formidable heap of rubbish blocked the entrance. Where Time 
busies himself in the work of destruction, and Accident assists him to 
build a barricade, they both do their work so well, that those most 
experienced in such constructions must bow admiringly to their superior 
skill. 

"Ho! Ho! What do they take me for here?" said Mitaine to herself, 
not without anger. " Do they fancy by any chance that I want to run 
away ? This is a most needless precaution." 

Mitaine was at the foot of a narrow spiral staircase, which led to the 
top of the castle. The walls, covered with thick moss, distilled an offensive 

moisture, which, falling on the stairs, encouraged 
the growth of forests of ferns, lichens, and toad- 



stools, the pleasant homes of hundreds of wood- 
lice, and other creeping things. On the first 
step was seated a toad ; a pale lambent flame 
played around it, the only light to be met with 
in this dismal spot. The toad rose on its hind 
legs like a kangaroo, and began to climb the 
staircase, leaving behind it on each step a slimy 
track, which spread out exhaling a noisome 
odour. Mitaine followed this phosphorescent 
guide. Hearing a hollow sound accompanying 
each step, she turned and saw the stairs crumble 
away one after another as she ascended. 

" They are evidently bent on keeping me 

here, and I confess I shall have some difficulty 

in tearing myself away." 

The toad continued to lead the way. At the sixtieth stair it paused 

before a door, which opened, although there was nobody to be seen : the 

toad again moved on, and Mitaine continued to follow it. She found 

. herself in a vast gallery lighted only by the moon. Refreshed by the cool 




The guiding toad. 



IFNflli 



■111 11 



.1 
II 



1 



Hi 



MM 



The corpse candles. 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 213 

air which blew 011 her face, and by the glimpse of the open country which 
she caught through a window, she felt as if she had just emerged from 
the tomb. On her left hand was a blank wall ; before her opened, one 
after another, a series of huge folding doors ; on her right was a large 
array of columns and arches that flung their gloomy shadows on the floor 
and side of the chamber. Before her was the toad going on without 
stopping ; gleaming with phosphorescent light, and leaving behind it, as it 
crawled along, a slimy and shining track. As Mitaine passed by the first 
column, it crumbled in pieces, and she beheld, standing upright on the pedestal, 
a corpse wrapped in its winding-sheet, and holding in its hand a lighted 
torch. It stepped down from its place, and, waiting until she passed, took up 
its position on her left. The second column sank in its turn, a second corpse 
descended and placed itself on her right hand, also bearing a torch. The same 
thing took place throughout the whole length of the gallery ; but the atten- 
tion of our young page was distracted by the spectacle she beheld on passing 
the first door. She saw an immense hole, the mere sieht of which made 
ner giddy ; at one moment excessively bright, at the next equally gloomy, 
it seemed as if lighted by some gigantic forge, whose flame alternately 
blazed up and died at every successive blast of the bellows. This inter- 
mittent glare was insupportable, and for some minutes Mitaine was almost 
blinded. She heard groans, and, at length, contrived to distinguish thousands 
of unhappy wretches with their hands tied behind their backs, and their 
limbs fractured, suspended by their wrists from the roof. Her heart 
full of pity and rage, she was about to rush to their aid, when she perceived 
that the hall was without a floor ; a gulf, at the bottom of which a torrent 
was roaring, yawned beneath the feet of the victims. She turned aside her 
head, wiped away a tear, and hastened onwards. Every door before which 
she passed afforded her a view of new tortures, and her impotence to 
relieve these agonies so infuriated her, that, not knowing how to vent 
her rage, she rushed, sword in hand, upon the melancholy procession 
that surrounded her ; but she encountered nothing but empty air. The 
corpses, taking no heed, pursued their way without hurrying, without 
delaying. Then the anger of Mitaine knew no bounds. She rushed 
on recklessly in search of an enemy. The toad took to flight ; the 
dead, observing their distance, seemed to glide, not walk over the floor. 
At the end of the gallery a door opened, on grating hinges, and closed 
again as soon as Mitaine had crossed the threshold. The darkness was 
impenetrable. She was compelled to halt. The dull flame of the torches 
flickered up and faded in the gloom without giving out any light. The 



214 



THE FORTRESS OP FEAR. 




The toad scratching itseli. 



corpses ranged themselves in an immense circle round the toad ; the toad 
gave a bound at least ten feet high, and Mitaine observed that it increased 
in size. As it swelled out, the hall became filled with light. Then the 
beast began to assume airs and graces, to attitudinise, and to ogle; and 

lastly, to finish these vagaries, it 
set about its toilet, and commenced 
scratching itself, emitting, at every 
touch of its foot, showers of venom 
and sparks. The hall which 
Mitaine had just entered was the 
largest in the world. It seemed 
like some enormous square, in 
which met a number of wide 
roads, whose starting-points were 
lost in obscurity. The ceiling, 
which was low, was supported on huge granite cubes, whose sides were 
adorned with das reliefs, representing the most varied scenes in the dance 
of death. The toad took its seat on an overturned column, at the foot 
of one of the pillars, shining like some baleful meteor. In front of it, 
beneath a dais of black serge, embroidered with silver, sat the Lord of 
the Fortress and his family, while in all the galleries legions of ghosts 
waited, motionless, the orders of their master. 

The throne was of aspen wood ; it was no easy task to reach it. 
Oubliettes, traps, and snares defended the approach. The Lord of Fear 
was standing up. On either side of him were seated the noble dame 
Cowardice of St. Panic, and her daughters, Consternation, Fright, Terror, 
Alarm, Dismay, Apprehension, Trepidation, Timidity, Pusillanimity, 
Poltroonry, and Dastardy. All were misshapen, and so accustomed to 
try to look on every side of them at once, for fear of being taken by 
surprise, that they squinted frightfully. They were all absolutely hideous 
to behold. 

The Lord of Fear was tall, but he stooped and kept his head sunk 
between his shoulders. His bristling locks were prematurely white; his 
hollow eye did not remain still for an instant, but wandered restlessly to 
every corner ; his sunken countenance, pale and colourless as wax, was 
disfigured by green streaks ; his purple lips, continually quivering with 
nervous excitement, endeavoured in vain to assume an air of bravery ; his 
fidgety fingers wandered to his cuirass, his sword, his dagger, as if to 
assure themselves that they would not be wanting if needed. A cold 




The family of Fear. 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 21 7 

perspiration bathed his face, in spite of the fever that consumed him. His 
teeth chattered, and every moment a fit of shivering set all his defensive 
armour rattling under his dingy cloak ; and every time that she heard 
this sound of steel, Dame Coward gave a terrible jump, and gazed round 
her upon all sides for the cause of her alarm. She was seated on the 
very edge of her throne, with her two hands resting on .the elbows, so 
that she might at once jump up and run away. Like her daughters, she was 
dressed in a material .the colour of which was constantly changing. A 
hare reposed on her knees. 

" This little page would be nice to eat," whispered Trepidation to her 
father ; " don't be too severe upon him." 

" There you are again with your absurdities ! you have no force of 
character," interposed Alarm. " If one ever listened to you, Heaven knows 
what would become of us." 

" We must, at any price," said Dastardy, " get rid of this young vixen, 
and I feel sure that by attacking her in the rear ■" 

" I am afraid our last hour is come," said Apprehension, bursting into 
tears. 

" You are always the same," said Alarm. " You would never tire of 
throwing the handle after the hatchet." 

" Why don't you speak, sister ? " said Dastardy to Timidity, who was 
hiding herself. " Let us hear your opinion." 

" I — but — I don't know," stammered Timidity. 

" You never know anything," answered Dastardy, giving her sister a 
pinch that nearly brought the blood, and then running away. 

Poor Timidity gave a shriek that made all the family jump again. 
The Lord of Fear sprang back ten paces, and drew his dagger. Dame 
Coward jumped up and let fall her hare, which immediately hid itself 
under her petticoat. 

" Be silent, idiots, and come round me again ; that foolish Timidity 
has given me a fright. The first who speaks shall be put in the dark 
cupboard." After this awful threat came the silence of death. 

" Well, and what would you do here, little one ? " said the Lord of 
Fear, in the interval between two shivering fits. 

" By the Shrine of St. Landri," said Mitaine, clapping her hands on 
her hips, " it must be admitted you have a strange way of receiving your 
o-uests. I have shrunk from nothing in order that I might see you, and 
my perseverance deserves a better return." 

"You do not answer my question. Why do you come here?" 

c c 



2l8 THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 

" To drive you away." 

On hearing these words the Lord of Fear shrank into himself until 
you would have thought that half of him had disappeared, and Dame 
Coward sank back into her chair, behind which her daughters concealed 
themselves. 

" Imprudent wretch !" stuttered Fear, shaking until he nearly fell. 
" How dare you defy me thus?" 

" To judge from your appearance," said Mitaine, smiling, " there's no 
great merit in that." 

"You dare to doubt my courage? You deserve to suffer the terrors 
of my vengeance." It was not without some difficulty that Fear uttered 
these words, for his tongue was almost paralysed. 

" You have no influence over me ; and all the absurd scarecrows 
you have called up to terrify me are only fit to be laughed at!" 

" My name is the terror of the universe." 

" You libel the universe by saying so. Because a few weak minds 
allow you to rule them, you consider yourself master of the world. Come 
out of your den into the light of day, and see how you will be received!" 

" The women are on my side ! " 

"They are not! When they catch a glimpse of you they cannot in 
truth repress an exclamation of natural disgust. An insect, a shadow, an 
unusual noise can make them tremble ; but when a serious danger presents 
itself, when a great sentiment animates them, they will, as Christians, die 
the death of martyrs ; as wives, follow their husbands into battle, like the 
Gallic women ; and, as mothers, struggle with lions for the safety of their 
children. They will, in short, achieve immortality, like Judith, like Lucretia, 
like St. Genevieve." 

" Well, at any rate, I have the children. The little people are my 
subjects." 

" And you dare to tell this to me ? Why, you actually elevate impudence 
almost to the position of courage. The children would obey you least of 
any of us if wicked teachers and foolish parents did not place them in your 
power. They threaten them with the dark room, and they take care to 
lock you up there with them. They call the wolf to eat them. Did 
Romulus and Remus quake at the approach of their wild nurse ? I am but 
a child, but I know how much you are worth, and, by St. Landri's Shrine ! 
I defy you utterly." 

Mitaine became aware of a low sound, and noticed a stir among the 
corpses. At the end of one of the numberless passages that opened into the 




The shriek of Timidity, 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 221 

hall where this happened there appeared some pale rays of light which seemed 
to come nearer. As their light grew more distinct that of the toad began 
to die out, and the creature itself commenced shifting uneasily on its seat. 
The Lord of Fear seemed more alarmed than ever. His teeth chattered 
like castanets — he had to make three attempts before he could speak. 

" You do ill to deny my power ; all these who surround me have 
acknowledged it!" 

" They are ashamed of it now," cried Mitaine ; and then turning to them, 
she shouted, " Can you submit to such a lord ? You have only to make 
one step towards him, and you will drive him and his wretched race from 
the face of the earth. Your hands are not dead, they are but benumbed 
for a while. Make one more effort. Fling yourselves on the tyrant. I 
will show you the way!" 

At these words the dead let fall their winding-sheets, and discovered 
to view a legion of knights in rusty armour with their swords drawn. 
Alarm gave a shriek, which was answered by screams from Fear himself, 
from Dame Coward, from Consternation, Fright, Terror, Dismay, Appre- 
hension, Trepidation, Timidity, Pusillanimity, Poltroonery, and Dastardy. 

Then was seen a strange sight. The bas-reliefs began to start into life, and 
continued their wild dance along the pillars, to the accompaniment of alarming 
shrieks. The thunder rolled, and yawning fissures opened in the walls and 
ceiling. The earth gaped amid deafening clamours, and Mitaine found 
herself in the dark. She did not remain long thus, for the galleries sank 
by degrees, and day came on apace. Its first rays glittered on her arms ; 
the cheery voice of Chanticleer resounded, and, as if it had but waited 
the signal, the Fortress of Fear vanished into air ! 

Mitaine was mute with astonishment. How fair appeared the country 
to her ! how beautiful the sun ! and how softly did the breeze of mornino- 
woo her cheek ! She fell on her knees, and uttered a heartfelt prayer. 

The fields were variegated with a thousand colours, as though they 
contained specimens of every kind of flower that blows. The birds joined 
in — never had they chanted a more joyous welcome to dawn. There was 
nothing left of the castle but the recollection, and that was already grow- 
ing indistinct. 

When Mitaine had finished her orisons and rose to her feet, she beheld 
an old man and a young woman gazing at her with an affectionate expression. 
They were but a few steps from her, yet she could scarcely see them, for they 
were enveloped in a faint mist. 

"Who are you?" she asked. 



222 THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 

" Your grateful friends. You have delivered us from Fear, who used 
to hold us captive. For a long time we have ceased to breathe, but, thanks 
to you, we are about to see once more those from whom we were so hastily 
snatched away. To-day is the Feast of the Dead, and heaven allows us 
to pass the day on earth. All those whom you have delivered are going 
to escort you to Charlemagne's camp to testify to your great courage ami 
noble bearing." 

Then Mitaine saw gathered around her from all quarters a number of 
knights clad in armour that was eaten up with rust. They were of all ages 
and of all countries, the greater part being mounted. A few women and 
children followed the procession. The footfalls were unheard, and left mi 
mark behind them. The figures were transparent, bathed in a strange 
mist, to which the sun gave an opalescent gleam. 

Having ranged themselves in column, they began to march onward, 
and Mitaine retraversed the places which had seemed to her so terrific 
on the preceding night : the stone bridge across the torrent, the wall covered 
with creepers, and almost hidden by acacia boughs, the forest of naked 
stems — everything, in short, appeared full of gaiety now that the sun was 
shining. 

She called to her the old man who had lately addressed her, and bade 
him tell her what were the tortures, the sight of which had so roused her. 

"Those," said the dead man, "were the halls of nightmare, my child. 
The Lord of Fear gives his victims no rest. He and Sleep, who delivers 
them into his hand, understand each other. Incubi, demons, vampires, 
and ghoules form his terrible executioners, and preside over the punish- 
ments. You have seen them at their task, I need not attempt to describe 
them ! " 

"What can defend us against them?" 

" A clear conscience and a good digestion." 

In a quarter of an hour Mitaine perceived the hut at which she had 
stopped on the night before. The peasant was seated on the ground 
among his little ones. 

" Thank heaven ! " said she. " Poor old man, your feeble sight will 
not, doubtless, allow you to distinguish your son as yet. But you, his 
wife, you can no doubt perceive him." 

"We have never ceased to see him since we parted," said she. 
" There is neither limit nor let to the vision of the dead." 

The peasant turned his head, saw the procession approaching, recog- 
nised Mitaine, and, with a shout of surprise, at once ran to meet her. 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 223 

Ere he had reacneci half-way, his glance fell on his father and his wife, 
and, overcome with joy, he sank on his knees, stretching out his arms 
towards them. He would fain have spoken, but could find no language 
to express in fitting terms the joy he experienced. He scarce dared to 
move, lest he should put to flight the beloved group he saw before him. 
When he had ascertained that he was not suffering from an illusion, tears 
filled his eyes, and, clasping his hands, he fell on his face, saying, " Kind 
Heaven, I am indeed grateful for this ! " 

I will not attempt to describe to you the joy of these three, whom 
death had, for a while, no power to separate. The mother covered her 
babes with kisses. The peasant, now as aged as his father had been, 
could not tear himself from his arms. Their white beards mingled at each 
embrace. The first outburst of joy over, they all three turned to Mitaine, 
and kissed her hands. 

" Who could have forewarned you of all this happiness, my son ?" said 
the father. 

" Do you not know, then ? My child, who, some years ago lost his 
reason, has become the cleverest of the family since daybreak this morning. 
Henceforth there are no saints in the calendar I shall revere as I do you!" 
said he to Mitaine, who had no small difficulty in freeing herself from the 
demonstrations of gratitude of which she was the object. She called for 
the horse which she had left with her host of the previous night, and rode 
away at full gallop, followed by her fantastic escort. 

In about six hours she saw the camp of Charlemagne. The sentinels 
on outpost duty, seeing a cloud of dust in the distance coming along towards 
them with such speed, fell back and gave the alarm. 

"What is it?" said the Emperor. "Who are these that thus fall 
into our hands ? Go, Miton ; mount your horse, take an escort, and inspect 
these new comers." 

In a moment the whole camp was alive. Every one put on his corslet, 
laced his helm, seized his lance, and sprang to saddle. Miton chose thirty 
mounted knights and led them out. 

"By my faith!" said he, "these be strange folks. To judge from their 
size they ought not to be far off, and yet I can hardly make them out. Can 
you see them better, Red John ?" he asked one of his men. 

" Not I ! My wonder is as great as yours. But is not that a page 
in the imperial livery who is riding at their head ?" 

" By my life, it is Mitaine !" And Miton spurred forward at such speed 
that in three minutes he was in his daughter's arms. The ghostly squadron 



224 TIIE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 

halted, and the thirty knights halted likewise, striving to pacify their startled 
horses, which were snuffing the air, snorting with dilated nostrils, pawing 
the ground, and neighing as if ready to die of terror. 

"Who are these whom you are leading?" 

" Those whom I have liberated." 

" Liberated ! How ?" 

" I will tell you all in the Emperor's presence. The sun is low already, 
and we have no time to spare." 

Miton and his thirty knights, and Mitaine with her strange followers, 
rode towards the camp. Charlemagne, surrounded by his peers, came out 
to meet them. 

" By St. James ! these people look as if they didn't belong to this 
world. And if I am not stupidly mistaken, it is my godchild who commands 
them." 

Mitaine dismounted, and approached her royal godsire, who asked her, 
" Well, little one, what is this strange array ? Do you know that I have a 
mind to punish you, and yet I haven't the heart to scold you, I am so 
rejoiced to see you again, and so anxious to learn who these are that 
accompany you." 

" My prisoners, sire !" And the spectres lowered their lances to show 
their submission to her. 

" But whence come they ? Have you been to seek them in another 
world ?" 

" By my faith, sire, I could almost believe I passed last night there ; " 
and she related her adventures briefly to Charlemagne in the presence of 
his peers and knights. 

" Come, let me embrace you, my darling. So it appears I have promised 
you something. What is it?" 

" You promised me, sire, to ask Roland to take me into his service 
as a squire." 

"It is Roland whom I reward by giving him such a treasure. What 
say you, nephew mine ?" 

The only answer Roland gave was to clasp Mitaine in his arms. The 
little heroine, ruddy with joy, turned to her escort to thank them. They 
had disappeared ! On seeing this, Charlemagne sank on his knees ; his 
example was followed by all the rest, and Turpin recited the prayers for 
the dead. 

Thus ended the adventure, undertaken by Mitaine. 

I wish I could tell you, my friends, that the Fortress of Fear was 



THE FORTRESS OF FEAR. 



225 



destroyed for good and all. I am compelled, as a veracious chronicler, 
to confess that it was rebuilt the same evening. 

You will some day or other, my young friends, most assuredly fall in 
with the Lord of Fear. Call to mind Mitaine whenever you do meet him, 
and remember that the monster can boast no weapons save those you 
surrender to him — no power save that which you give him — no courage 
save that which you lose. 




Exeunt the Fear family. 



END OF THE THIRD HOOK 



D 



EPILOGUE. 



RONCESVALLES. 



A.D. 778. 




Slung to death by vipers. 



RONCESVALLES 



a.d. 778. 



YOU have, I hope, not forgotten, my dear readers, that Charlemagne 
had dispatched Ganelon to Aquitaine. For the shame and injury 
of France, the Count of Mayence had turned this trip to good account, by 
establishing a perfect understanding between himself and our old and little- 
respected friend, Wolf. They decided on the destruction of Charlemagne 
and his peers ; but as for attacking them openly, they did not dream of 
that ! 

" I will undertake," said Ganelon, " to lead them into the mountains, 
if you will only place some twenty thousand Navarrese and Gascons on 
the heights that I will show you. Then we shall be able in perfect safety 
to crush beneath the rocks this haughty and hated brood." 

About the same period Marsillus had called his warriors together, and 
was conversing with them, reposing in the shade on the white marble 
steps of his palace. 

" My friends, since this accursed Charles has set foot in Spain, we have 
never had a moment's peace. Great as has been the bravery we have 
displayed, we have been everywhere worsted. We can do no more, for 
each has done his best. I suppose you are none of you less desirous 



23O RONCESVALLES. 

than I to yield this beautiful Spain to these Northern barbarians. Aid 
me, therefore, by your counsels to avenge our disasters." 

Blancandrin, the wisest and most crafty of the Pagans, was the first 
to speak. 

" The fox often passes where the lion cannot. Well, then, since we 
fail as lions, let us assume the part of foxes, instead of wasting our time 
in idle laments, and our resources in vain endeavours. Charles is very 
proud ; and when pride is warder, the city is ill-watched. Profess a 
respectful regard for this crowned bully ; tell him you desire to be 
baptised, and appoint a meeting with him in his own dominions. Promise 
to meet him there by Michaelmas, with your principal nobles, to do homage 
to him, and to acknowledge the Christian faith. Add further, that you 
will make him a present of three hundred mules, laden with gold and silver ; 
a hundred chariots, filled with a countless stock of rare stuffs ; numberless 
war-steeds ; three hundred trained falcons, lions, and leopards broken-in for 
the chase ; besides five hundred fair Saracen damsels, if such be his good 
pleasure. The invaders have been a long time from home, and have left 
their estates in the charge of their wives. There is not one of them who 
would not be glad of a rest. As soon as they have divided the booty, 
they will all be pressing the king to return, and when once they get home 
again, he will have no easy task to prevail on them to stir a second time." 

" The advice is good, possibly, but Charles is not the man to be satis- 
fied with simple promises." 

" Send him hostages — ten, twenty, thirty, if he asks for them. Would 
it not be better to lose a few women and children than the whole of 
Spain ? I offer to give my son as a hostage, at the risk of his life." 

This counsel was considered sound, and was approved by all. 

" Go, then," said Marsillus to Blancandrin. " I promise you a splendid 
escort when you set out, and boundless rewards on your return. Exchange 
the sword for the olive branch, and be not sparing in promises." 

The envoys were accordingly mounted on white mules, with trappings 
and bells of gold and silver, and before long set out for the camp of 
Charlemagne. 



When the envoys arrived, no time was lost in introducing them into 
the Emperor's presence. His Majesty of the snowy beard was sitting in 
his orchard surrounded by his bravest warriors. The younger ones were 
practising the use of arms ; the elder were talking or playing at chess. 



RONCESYALLES. 23 1 

Blancandrin, after having saluted Charles with dignified courtesy, delivered 
his message so cunningly, that the nobles began to shout, " Hurrah, now we 
shall speedily return home!" Charlemagne, however, remained lost in medi- 
tation. It was not his habit to give way readily either to astonishment or 
disappointment. At last he rose and said, " The news you bring me causes 
me great pleasure. If King Marsillus is really desirous of securing his 
soul's safety, let him meet me at Aix-la-Chapelle, and I will welcome him 
there as a brother." 

A tent was prepared for Blancandrin and his suite, on whom every 
attention and boundless generosity were lavished. 



The next day, after mass and matins, the Emperor wisely called to- 
gether his peers to learn what they thought of the speech of the envoy 
from the Court of the King of Saragossa. Naymes of Bavaria, a knight 
of great renown, and one of the king's best counsellors, rose and spoke : — 

" Sire, you have beaten the enemy wherever he has dared to offer 
battle. Of his fortresses, not one stone rests on another; his cities have 
been burnt ; his troops have been either killed or converted. You have 
raised the cross wherever it had been formerly overthrown ; what can you 
desire more ? You are offered a ransom for the kingdom in which you 
will hold the sovereign power ; a nation of unbelievers demands baptism 
at your hands, and offers you hostages. It would be a sin to continue a 
warfare which has no longer any object. Such is my opinion ! " 

After this speech, Roland was not slow to spring to his feet. 

"So it is you, then, Naymes, whom I hear? and can you give such 
counsel ? Marsillus is your enemy, sire, and you have scarcely treated him 
in a way to make him very anxious to embrace you. Do not turn your back 
upon Spain until your undertaking is accomplished ; we have been here longer 
already than was necessary for its completion. Send home those brave 
soldiers who have tired of war before they have completed their conquest, and 
I venture to say that with those who remain you shall plant the cross within 
sight of Africa, if such be your good pleasure. How can you trust the words 
of a Pagan? Have you already forgotten the fate to which Marsillus con- 
demned two of your nobles, the Counts Basan and Basille ? They went on an 
embassy from you to the King of Saragossa, and he had them beheaded on 
Mount Hautille. It was your honour, sire, which that day fell beneath the 



232 



RONCESVALLES. 



infidel axe. Will you let them trample it under foot because a few prudent 
warriors would be glad to abandon this undertaking? Go, then, but I must 
remain ! I shall stay here to make my death so glorious that you will all 
envy me." 




Charlemagne's meditations. 



During this speech Charles knitted his brows and tugged his long 
moustache ; seeing which, Ganelon rose in his turn. 

" These be proud words, forsooth! I could not but ask myself when I 
heard them whether we live in the reign of Roland or of Charlemagne. This 
sort of thing is easily spoken, and sounds remarkably well, like everything 
that's hollow. We are told to retreat ; are we in the habit of doing so ? Does 



RON'CESVALLES. 233 

it not look as if Roland had been conquering Spain while we followed at a 
respectful distance ? Forgive my anger, sire, but I cannot help speaking 
somewhat freely. Take no one's counsel but your own, sire, and you will do 
right." 

Thereupon Charlemagne asked his knights which of them would like to 
carry his message to Marsillus. All rose and offered to go, Roland being 
more importunate than all the others. 

" You'll deafen me, nephew," said the Emperor. " I shall certainly 
not send you on a mission you have just condemned. My friend Ganelon 
shall carry my wishes to the King of Saragossa. To him will I entrust 
the gauntlet and truncheon." 

" That is indeed a wise choice," said Roland, laughing. " You will 
nowhere find a more cautious ambassador." 

" Enough said ! By my beard, nephew mine, you will provoke me 
too far presently. Be seated, and wait until I bid you speak." 

" Sire," said Ganelon, " from such a mission one does not always 
return. I recommend to your care my son Baldwin, who will one day be 
a brave warrior." 

Charlemagne handed the gauntlet to the Count of Mayence, who let 
it fall on the ground. "A bad omen!" said the Franks, seeing it. 
"Roland may be right after all 1" 

" You will hear of me before lone, eentlemen," said Ganelon, with an ill- 

o o 

favoured smile. Then, furnished with truncheon and letter, he made ready 
to set out on his mission. 



Ganelon and Blancandrin, followed by the Saracen body-guard, journeyed 
for three days side by side. The Pagan was not slow to perceive in a 
moment the hatred entertained by the Count of Mayence for Roland, 
and he rejoiced to see it. Let us hear what they are talking about. 

" Whence comes it," said Blancandrin, " that your sovereign, instead of 
seeking an alliance with us, made war on us so fiercely ?" 

"It is Roland who is always egging him on. But for him, we should 
long since have returned to France." 

They reached the camp of Marsillus. Fifty thousand Saracens 
surrounded the King of Saragossa, but they maintained perfect silence, 
for fear of losing a syllable of what was eoine to be said. 

" May Allah and Mahomet preserve you, beloved sovereign ! We 

E E 



234 



RONCESVALLES. 



have borne your message, and we bring back to you one of the noblest 
peers of the Court of France, to decide with you on peace or war." 
" I am prepared to give him an immediate audience." 
Marsillus and Ganelon remained shut up together for two hours — two 
hours, which laid the foundation of acres of regret. When the tent was 
re-opened the 'King of Saragossa came out, leaning on the arm of the 
French envoy. Had Roland come instead of Ganelon, that would never 
have happened. 

" Gentlemen," said Marsillus to his nobles, " welcome the preserver of 

Spain ! This lord, although a Christian, 
is a true friend to us, and I desire that 
he be treated as such." 

A Saracen advanced, drew his sword 
from its sheath, and presented it to 
Ganelon. 

" This weapon is the best in the 

world," said he. " Its jewelled hilt 

fc g( fe=^Si ''"S^W"" lluf^- alone is estimated at thirty thousand be- 

Us^fP^^ |J t!\til zants, at the lowest, and yet the blade is 

even more valuable. Accept it, and may 
it serve you well against Roland." 

" I will put it to the test," said the 
Count of Mayence, coolly ; and the traitor 
and unbeliever kissed each other. 

The queen passed by. Marsillus 
stopped her cortege, and bade her dis- 
mount, saying, " This is our best of 
friends. You owe it to him that we 
shall remain under that Spanish sky which you love so much. Embrace 
him for the love of us all." 

" With all my heart," said the Sultana. " I wish you also, Sir Ganelon, 
to bear to your wife from me these bracelets, which are the finest in my 
possession. Neither the Pope at Rome nor the Emperor at Aix-la-Chapelle 
can boast anything to equal them among all their treasures." 

All vied in paying the Count attention, and in loading him with the 
most precious gifts. 

The same evening Ganelon returned to the French camp, accompanied 
by presents and hostages for the Emperor. 




Ganelon and Marsillus. 



RONCESVALLES. 



2 35 



Three days later, at early dawn, Ganelon and his escort arrived at 
Charlemagne's quarters. 

" So you have returned," said Charles. " Have you sped well with 
your mission ?" 

" Sire, you have nothing more to do here ! The gallant King 
Marsillus is altogether your devoted liegeman. Behold the treasures he 
sends you, as a guarantee of others yet more valuable. See, too, the 
hostages whom I have chosen, thirty in number, all of them of the noblest 
rank. In a month the King of the Saracens will visit you at the French 
Court to receive baptism, together with all his nobles and knights." 

" You could not bring me more welcome news, and I rejoice greatly 
that I chose you for the mission. Before long you will have reason to 
rejoice at it too ! " 




GaiiL-lon tells all to Pinabel. 



His audience concluded, Ganelon retired with his nephew Pinabel, to 
whom he wished to reveal the real state of the case. It happened that 
Mitaine preceded them into the stable, towards which the traitor took his 
way, and knowing the hate the count bore to Roland, her friend, she was 
curious to hear him speak openly. She therefore crept up in the manger, 
and hid herself among the hay in the rack. 

This second Judas, going up to his horse, began to talk as fol- 
lows : — 

" Marsillus, who had treated me distantly enough in the morning, 
apologised at night for so doing, and, as a slight reparation, presented me 
with some valuable sables. I gave him to understand the dreadful fate 
that awaited him, and assured him that Roland was the only obstacle in 
the way of our return to France. 'Hope for no mercy,' said I, 'while 
Roland lives.' ' How can we kill him?' said he. Whereupon I answered, 
I would undertake to do it with his assistance. ' What can I do ? ' he 
asked. ' I will tell you what I have planned,' said I. ' Before long we 
shall be on the march for France. The most dangerous post is the 
rear-guard, and that Roland will claim. When he reaches the pass of 



2^6 RONCESVALLES. 



-o 



Roncesvalles, surrounded by the flower of our chivalry, twenty thousand 
Navarrese and Gascons, posted there by me, will hurl down a very shower 
of rocks. Take advantage of the surprise, and with two hundred thousand 
men fall on them in the rear. I won't guarantee your men's lives, but 
you must carry on the battle incessantly, and at last Roland must be slain.' 
'It is very well said,' answered the king; 'this counsel is worth ten mules, 

laden with gold pieces, and I will pay you that sum yearly as long as 

Ii • » >> 
live. 

At this point Pinabel, observing that Ganelon's horse, although it 
had just come off a long journey, only smelt at the rack without touching 
its contents, took a pitchfork, and in order to find out what hindered the 
animal from eating, thrust it into the hay. One of the prongs pierced 
Mitaine's thigh, but she nevertheless remained silent, determined not to 
lose for a cry the advantage of the conversation she had overheard. 

" There's nothing there," said Pinabel. 

" What did you think there would be ? Don't you know that a good 
horse never eats much in the morning?" And with that the worthy 
couple quitted the stable. 

Mitaine had great difficulty in crawling back to Miton's tent. She 
dressed her wound with a celebrated ointment, which is still in great use 
— the "Balm of Miton-Mitaine" — and was able to present herself the same 
evening before Roland. 



The Count of Mans listened to what his squire had to tell. 

" This is good news you bring me, little one ; and, with the aid of 
Heaven, I will find a way thereby to rid the world of this traitor Ganelon." 

"What!" said Mitaine; "will you not alter your line of march?" 

" Remember this : he who finds a snake in his path has two alternatives 
to choose between. He can either make a detour, and continue his route, 
by doing which he leaves an enemy in his rear ; or he can go straight to 
the monster and kill it, which is the safer course. There is, by the way, 
a third solution of the matter — flight ; but, of course, no one would dream 
of that. I shall take care not to neglect the opportunity which is offered 
me. In the meantime, swear to keep strict silence on this point!" 



roncesvall.es. 237 

The trumpets resounded through the camp of Marsillus. The unbe- 
lievers placed themselves in ambush beside the French line of march, and 
waited for the next morning. 

The clarions rang out through the camp of Charlemagne. The hour 
of departure had come. Charles rode proudly amid his gallant knights. 

"Who will lead the rear-guard through the passes of Cisaire ? " asked 
the Emperor of his nobles. 

" Count Roland," suggested Ganelon, " since he is the bravest. Does 
not the place of danger belong to him ? " 

" Count of Mayence, some evil intention influences that speech." 

"Why so, sire?" interposed Roland. "Sir Ganelon is right. The 
task is mine — I claim it." 

" So be it," said the Emperor. " My peers shall accompany you with 
twenty-five thousand horsemen." 

" The Saracens will have a hot day's work," said Ganelon to himself. 



The Saracens were concealed in the forests at the entrance of the pass. 
The Navarrese and Gascons (everlasting shame upon them !) were lying in 
ambush on the heights, ready to hurl death upon their brother Christians. 

The vanguard, consisting of twenty thousand men, led by Ogier the 
Dane, was first to present itself. But it was not they who were wanted — - 
they w r ere allowed to pass. 

Charlemagne came next, with Ganelon in attendance upon him. For 
six hours the troops, the wagons, the booty, were slowly marching through 
the defile. There was an abundance of wealth ; but who dared touch it ? 
They were suffered to pass. Finally came the rear-guard, led by Roland. 
Then the Pagans began to be on the move, the Gascons prepared for action. 
The great carnage was about to begin. 



Marsillus was on horseback at the head of his troops. Buriabel, King 
of Alexandria, came swaggering up to him. 

" Sire, I have brought you thirty thousand soldiers, fully armed. I 
have not hesitated to risk my life in your service. In return for this, 1 



2"}8 RONCESVALLES. 



only ask one thing — the honour of despatching Roland. If I meet him, 
he dies ! " 

" You forget, it appears to me," said the King of Saragossa, in a 
severe tone, " that I am here. I am not in the habit of handing over 
difficult tasks to others ; Roland belongs to me ! You will have enough 
to do with the rest." 

Then, armed to the teeth, they rode forward in serried ranks. 



The Franks entered the pass. Roland halted them, and spoke : — 
" Brothers in arms ! We are going to have a tough day's work. But few 
of us will ever again behold fair France. Ganelon, the traitor, has brought 
us to this evil pass ! He has sold us to the Saracens. In a few minutes 
these rocks will be hurled down upon us, and we shall hear the Saracen 
trumpets sounding. They do not know that we are forewarned, and the 
sound of our bugles will be the signal. Let those who are in doubt about 
our safety, therefore, leave us to join the main body. But let those, who 
desire wounds more awful than death — those who are ready to sacrifice 
their lives, in order to be revenged on Ganelon — let those remain with me!" 

Not a single knight quitted the ranks. 

"If any one of us escapes, his life must be devoted to the extermina- 
tion of Ganelon, and all his race. For my .part, I swear to do this ! " 

All repeated the oath. Roland heard behind him a voice, shriller than 
any of the others, cry, " By the Shrine of St. Landri, death to the Count 
of Mayence ! " 

He turned, and saw Mitaine. 

" Ah, unhappy child, what are you doing here ? You know well what 
fate awaits us. Is this a place for babes-in-arms ?" 

" You do wrong to blame me, sir knight. You will, perhaps, have 
reason to be sorry for your words before sunset." 



Mitaine was on the summit of a peak. She gazed around on all 
sides, and soon discovered the enemy. The sun was shining brightly, and 
glistened on corslet and casque, spear and pennon. At the same moment 
the neighing of horses reached her ear. 




^ci.^3 



\» V3&Sfc&f.a 



Roland the Peerless. 



RONCESVALLES. 24 1 

" The Saracens are coming from the Spanish side. They are sr> 
many in number, it is difficult to understand how any troops can be left 
to guard the cities. If we had to encounter so large a Christian army, 
the result would be doubtful. But these are Pagans, and Heaven will 
not fail us." 

"If that be the case," said Oliver, "you had better sound your horn, 
friend Roland. Charlemagne has not gone far, and will return at once to 
our aid on hearing it." 

" We must wield swords, not horns, here. The way is open, if you 
fear the adventure is too arduous." 

" Trust me, comrade ; in a few moments it will be too late. Wind 
your horn !" 

" You give me base counsel ! It shall never be told that Roland 
quitted his grasp of Durandal to wind his horn for aid against 
Pagans ! " 

" So be it," said Oliver. " We will not quarrel about it." 



Roland turned to Gautier de Luz, and said to him— 

" Dismount, Gautier, and let two thousand of our knights do the 
same. You will take the command of them, climb the mountain, and take 
these accursed Gascons in the rear before we enter the pass. Cut them 
up without mercy, like dogs as they are, and then, when you have 
accomplished the task, sound on your horn. We shall then draw on the 
Saracens in pursuit, and when I give the signal, do you roll down on them 
the rocks prepared for our destruction." 

"Well conceived," said Hoel of Nantes. "An excellent jest. I would 
not exchange my place here for anything in the whole world!" 

Two thousand knights dismounted, and with Gautier de Luz at their 
head, commenced the ascent. Mitaine, more active and lighter than the 
others, went first to reconnoitre. Roland followed them with his eyes until 
they disappeared behind the rocks. 

In about a quarter of an hour, which, I can assure you, seemed long 
enough to those below, a great uproar broke out, and the Navarrese and 
Gascons appeared in disorder on the cliffs. They were close pressed, and 
those who were not put to the sword on the spot, were flung down into 

r F 



242 RONCESVALLES. 

the ravine, in which there was soon an almost insurmountable heap of dead 
bodies. There was hardly a bush that was not adorned with some bleeding' 
fragment or other. 

Presently was heard the bugle note which announced that the heights 
were taken, and Roland, followed by some thousands of knights, rode 
out to meet the Saracens. 



'What is the meanincr of this?" said Marsillus, on beholdino- the 
Christians issuing from the pass. " It strikes me these brave warriors are 
afraid to attempt the pass. But we know how to compel them to do so. 
Their graves are dug there, and there they must sleep this night— and 
nowhere else ! " 

Thirty thousand Saracens spurred forward in haste, and grew doubly 
courageous on beholding the Christians turn to retreat. 

"What have they been telling us about the courage of these people?" 
said Arroth, the nephew of Marsillus. "So far, there has been more of 
the chase than the combat. We need hardly have come in such 
numbers." 

" Your words are wanting in sense," said Turgis of Toulouse. " Pray 
Heaven to allow your brains to grow old enough to perceive the 
folly." 

The Saracens entered the defile in pursuit of the Franks, who had 
surmounted all the obstacles in the pass. Their pursuers, however, halted 
in wonder before the heap of dead bodies that barred their passage. 
Roland took advantage of their hesitation and gave the signal, on hearing 
which Gautier de Luz set to work. Huge blocks of stone crashed down 
from overhead, involving horses and men ; living, dead, and wounded ; 
Saracens, Gascons, and Navarrese, in one common destruction. The pass 
was completely blocked up. 

"Truly," said Roland, " Ganelon contrived this trap very cleverly. 
But one cannot foresee everything in this world, and in this instance it is 
the hare that is hunting the hounds ! " 

The Pagans who returned to the King of Saragossa were barely 
eight thousand, including the wounded who had escaped destruction. 
They had flung away their banners and their arms in order to facilitate 
their flight. 



RONCESVALLES. 243 

" Is this what you promised us ? " they cried, threateningly, to 
Marsillus. " We have just fallen into a snare laid for us by Ganelon. 
Ah, dastard of a Roland, treacherous Count of Mayence, coward of an 
Emperor, you shall hear more of us yet ! By Mahomet, our vengeance 
shall be something to speak of, rascals ! " 

A hundred thousand Saracen knights pricked forward at full speed, 
taking a different road, which permitted them to cut off the retreat of 
the Franks. In the meantime Gautier de Luz and Mitaine had rejoined 
Roland. 



Archbishop Turpin had ridden to a slight eminence. The twenty 
thousand knights were on their knees around him. 

" Prepare to perish nobly, my brothers-in-arms," said he to them. " The 
heroes who do not shrink from the fight will sleep in Paradise by sunset. 
All your past sins shall be atoned for by cuts or thrusts of sword or lance. 
I absolve you all from this moment ! " 

He gave them his blessing, and they rose, comforted and en- 



couraged. 

o 



Presently the sound of the enemies' horses was heard, and before long 
the two armies had encountered each other. Lances were shattered — the 
held was covered with fragments of arms and armour. Death had made a 
speedy harvest, and riderless horses were galloping hither and thither, amid 
the groans and cries of the wounded. 

Everywhere destruction was being dealt out. 

At the head of the Saracens rode Arroth, nephew of Marsillus. 

" By Allah ! Charlemagne must be childish to give the command of 
the rear-cruard of his forces to Roland." 

The Count of Mans heard him, but answered not. Lance in rest, he 
rode down on him. Good heavens! what a thrust! — nothing could resist 
it. It clave the shield of the nephew of the King of Saragossa, pierced his 
chest, broke his spine, and pinned him to the earth. 

Fauseron, brother of King Marsillus, beheld Miton, and shouted to him — 

" Your Emperor, Charlemagne, must be sorely jealous of the fame of 
his knights, to send them to be slaughtered thus." 

Miton dashed at him with uplifted blade, and dealt him three terrific 
wounds : a partridge might have flown through any one of them with ease. 



244 RONCESVALLES. 

"You lie, knave!" cried the father of iMitaine; "our Charles is the 
bravest of the brave, and whoever questions it shall die the death of a dog — 
as you die ! " 

Anseis charged at Turgis of Toulouse, and ran him through with his 
lance. The white pennon was stained crimson with the thrust. 

But I should never finish if I told you all the wonderful blows they 
interchanged. At last the spear of Roland shivered. He drew Durandal and 
rushed into the thickest of the fight, slicing off heads with his sword as easily 
as a pigeon severs the heads of millet with its sharp beak. 

The fury of the combat was redoubled. The Franks performed 
prodigies of valour, but the Saracens seemed never to tire of being 
slaughtered. No sooner were thirty thousand Pagans stretched on the 
earth than thirty thousand more offered themselves for slaughter. The 
swords were blunted with repeated blows, but the strength of the heroes 
wearied not. How many Christians had received the crown of martyr- 
dom ! Yonder they lay, trampled under the horses' hoofs, while their 
mothers, their wives, their daughters were, perchance, singing cheerily as 
they awaited their return. 

At length came a time when there were no more Saracens left to 
kill. Of a hundred thousand Pagans but two survived. 

" Mountjoy St. Denis!" resounded over the field. But lo ! King 
Marsillus arrived with the main body. 

They had only encountered the advanced guard ! 



" Brethren," said Turpin, pointing to the Saracens with his mace, 
"yonder comes our death-struggle. Let us be polite, and go meet it; we shall 
only be in Paradise the sooner!" and he rode off as swiftly as if he 
bestrode a swallow. 

" Shame, false friend, to outstrip me ! " cried Roland, spurring 
Veillantif. " Bishop, do not perish without me ! " 

Once more the contest raged furiously. Turpin perceived Abyme, the 
most unbelieving Pagan of them all. 

" What deity do you serve ? " cried the bishop. 

" None," said the heretic ; whereupon, with three mighty blows of his 
mace, Turpin scattered over the field the amethysts, topazes, and carbuncles 




■orfffffl 

The ambuscade. 



RONCESVALLES. 247 

that covered the Pagan's shield. At the third blow the soul of Abyme 
fled to the regions below. 

o 

Climborin smote down Angelier of Gascony, but he did not live more 
than ten seconds to enjoy his conquest. Miton had seen the deed, lowered 
his lance, and pierced the Pagan's throat. 

" There, dog ! you may go boast of your victory ! " said he, as he 
rode off. 

Oliver had rested but little all this while ; he drove right and left at 
the ranks of the enemv, brandishing 1 Hauteclaire, mowing 1 the Saracens 
down like stubble. 

His shield was of gold, charged with a red cross. 

" That is a foul blazon," said Valdabron, striking the shield with his 
lance. 

" Nevertheless, you shall bow to it," answered the brother of Aude, and 
with one back-stroke he beheaded the paynim. 

The Duke Sanche was slain : it was Maucuidant who struck the 
fatal blow ; by his hand, too, perished Gerin and Anseis, Beranger and Guy 
de St. Antoine. But Roland rode right at the Pagan, and with the hilt 
of Durandal crushed his face in, and flung him, an unrecognisable corpse 
under his horse's hoofs. 

" It is truly sad that we can only kill once a hound who has done so 
much mischief." 

Then the knight stood up in his stirrups, and gazed around him. 
Merciful heavens, what a sight! Out of the twenty thousand Franks who 
had come there, but sixty remained alive. 

" By my hopes of Heaven ! " said Roland, " I should die the happier 
if I could but bear Marsillus with me to the grave. But how can I 
find him amid such a mrlce ? " 

Mitaine heard him. 

" I will show him to you, if you will follow me ; " and she began to 
strip oft" her armour piecemeal. Roland caught her by the arm to stop 
her — 

" What proof of madness are you going to give us now ? " 

" You take wisdom for folly, my lord. Do you think I should be 
suffered to pass, wearing your colours ? My mother used to scold me for 
spoiling my clothes ; they might get damaged now." 

"And you think I am going to let you perish like this?" 

" Is it not absurd to make all this difficulty about it ? Have we not 
come here to die ?" 



248 RONCESVALLES. 

And Mituine freed herself from his grasp, and sprang on a Saracen horse 
that she caught as it went riderless by. She was naked to the waist, and 
her golden hair floated around her shoulders. She seemed like the spirit of 
youth. Death fled from the presence of such lofty courage. 

"Come and seek me, dastard of a Croquemitaine !" she cried. "Mere 
I am well protected from thee." 

Roland followed her; his eyes were blinded with tears. 

" Merciful heaven ! what will they say of me for all these deaths ? I 
shall scarce dare to show myself to-night in Paradise." 

Mitaine had caught sight of the King of Saragossa, and made direct 
for him, without looking ri'^ht or left. Miton. whose headlong courage had 
carried him into the ranks of the foe, was beside her, surrounded by the 
Saracens. He was striking out right and left at random, thinking only to 
hack and hew the bodies of Pagans. Alas for the double misfortune ! 
Mitaine drew near him, and her father's sword traced a gory slash 
across her shoulder. She turned, and father and child recognised each 
other. 

"Is it you, my father? It was a good stroke, but 'tis wasted!" 

Horrified at the sicjht, Miton for a second forgot to defend himself. 
In another moment poor Mita was a widow! 

Meanwhile Mitaine had ridden close up to Marsillus, and rising up in 
her stirrups, to make sure Roland should see her, smote him on the face, 
crying, as loud as she was able — " Behold the King of Saragossa! Mountjoy 
for Charlemagne !" 

She could say no more. Marganice, King of Carthage, and uncle of 
Marsillus, dealt her a blow on the chest that was far heavier than was 
needed. The poor girl sank, insensible, and rolled under the horse's hoofs, 
with blood gushing from her lips and nostrils. 

When Roland saw this, his rage overpowered him. He drew near 
Oliver, and said, " Brother, shall we go slay that boastful Marsillus 
yonder ?" 

" It shall be done," said the other. 

They dashed forward, followed by a few of the Franks still remaining 
on the field — Beuve, Lord of Beaune and Dijon, whose death was a sore 
loss to Charles — Yve, and Yvoire, and Gerard of Roussillon. Roland 
and Oliver penetrated farthest into the infidel ranks ; at last they came 
within a few paces of Marsillus. 

" Is it you, then, whom they call the King Marsillus ? " said Roland. 

"It is a name the Franks will not forget." 



RONCESVALLES. 249 

"I am called Roland. If you never knew me before you shall know 
me to-day;" and with that he smote off the King's right hand as he raised 
it to strike. 

The Saracens shouted in alarm, " Mahomet preserve us ! " and fled 
like doves before an eagle. If they had found legs to bring them thither, 
they had found wings to take them away. 

There remained on the field only a thousand Ethiopians, the forces of 
Marganice. They were drawn up at a distance, and seemed undecided 
whether to advance. Roland put his horn to his lips, and blew a blast so 
powerful that it echoed and re-echoed for twenty leagues around. 

"What are you doing?" said Oliver. " Have you lost all shame, and 
do you no longer fear to sound for help against Pagans ? " 

" These are cruel words, comrade ! " 

"Why disturb Charlemagne for such a trifle? We are three yet. If 
you had been less brave we should not have bequeathed this defeat to 
our country. If you sound the bugle on my behalf, do not trouble 
yourself — henceforth I do not desire to live. If for Turpin, our friend 
only survives by a miracle, and will be dead before any one can come 
to his aid. If you sound, it is for yourself; and, by Heaven's truth! you will 
be a brave man to face Charlemagne." 

" Truly," said Turpin, " you might do better than quarrel now. 
Wind your horn, Roland, not for our sakes, but for the honour of France. 
We shall be avenged, and our bones will be laid in consecrated soil. 
Wind your horn, Roland ! " 

The Count of Mans lifted his bugle to his lips, and blew so loud and 
long, that the veins in his temples stood up like ropes, and the blood 
flowed from his mouth. 



The Emperor reined up his steed. 

" Did you hear, as I did, the bugle of Roland ? " 

The Count of Mayence trembled, but he answered, " 'Tis some goat- 
herd callincr together his flock." 

" Do you think I've grown childish, that I should mistake a horn for 
a pipe ? It was Roland's horn, past a doubt." 

" Well, sire, he sounds his bugle for nothing often ; perchance he 
is chasing some wild animal." 

G G 



250 RONCESVALLES. 

" By your leave, sire, the horn has a mournful sound," said Naymes 
of Bavaria, " and it is but due to your peers to go and sec what has 
befallen them." 

"You are right, friend. Ganelon, you will remain here;" and Charles 
called for Besgue, his head cook, and entrusted to him the custody of the 
Count of Mayence. 

" It is the duty of your scullions to guard this criminal. Have you 
any stout rope to put him to the question with ? " 

" I have, sire, the rope, saving your presence, with which I tie up 
the pigs when I stick them." 

" That will do well ! And now, my comrades, let us hasten to 
Roland." 

" There is no need to hurry," said Ganelon, with a grin ; " Roland does 
not ring the bell until mass is over." 

" Even so, renegade," said the Emperor, " we may arrive in time for 
vespers, and so much the worse for the Pagans." 



Roland was the only one left alive on the plains of Roncesvalles. To 
the shouts and yells of conflict had succeeded a silence infinitely more 
terrible. 

Dismayed at their success, the Saracens had fled. The work was 
accomplished ; the vultures would fitly succeed them. Insatiable parasites 
of the King of Saragossa, these new comers seldom had time to wipe their 
beaks between the banquets. 

Roland dismounted for the first time in the four-and-twenty hours. 
7die brave knight could scarcely stand. Leaning his brow on his horse's 
saddle, he cried like a child — he had poured out all his blood, and he had 
nothing left to shed but tears ! 

His wounds seemed nothing to him. It was despair that was killing 
him. In his grief he knelt beside the body of Oliver, and clasped it in his 
arms. He laid it on the turf, unlaced the helmet, kissed the cold brow, 
stripped off the armour, and examined it all over, unable to believe that 
he had really lost such a friend and companion in arms. 

He did the same for Turpin, Miton, and Gautier de Luz. But of what 




The grief ol Roland. 




The death of Mitaine. 



RONCESVALLES. 255 

avail was it to lavish cares upon the lifeless clay ? Their spirits were in 
heaven. 

Roland raised his head. He fancied he heard a faint but sweet voice 
pronounce his name. What happiness if there yet survived some one! 

" Do you not know me, my dear lord ? Come hither and bid me 
farewell ! " 

Pale, stretched on the field among the slain, lay the godchild of Charle- 
magne. 

" Heaven be praised, my pretty one ! To see you still alive makes 
me almost fancy Heaven smiles upon me. You will not die — I would not 
be the cause of your death ! Charles will be here soon, and will bear you 
back to our own beloved France." 

" You deceive yourself, Roland. I shall never again behold the great 
Emperor — never again my native land ! Before long I shall meet my father 
once more. But tell me, have the Saracens retreated ?" 

" They have retreated into Spain." 

" Then the victory belongs to us two ! By the shrine of St. Landri ! 
I am happier than I ever dreamed of being." 

Roland knelt down, took off one of his great gold spurs, and fixed it 
on Mitaine's heel. 

" There, brave little hero, none ever better merited the rank of 
knight ! " and he buckled it on. The two little feet of the squire would 
have both fitted easily into the single spur. 

In an ecstacy of joy, Mitaine raised herself, and flung her arms round 
Roland's neck. 

" Quick, quick, my beloved lord ! give me the accolade, for I feel I 
am dying ! " 

And Mitaine sank back on the turf, plucked with a last effort two 
blades of grass, which she fashioned into a cross, and expired while kissing 
it with fervour. 



Roland felt very solitary now. Feeling the shades of death gathering 
round him, he stole up to Veillantif. 

" My brave charger, your mouth is not meant for the bit of the 
Saracen, nor your sides for the Pagan spur." 



256 RONCESVALLES. 

And Roland, having kissed its soft muzzle, killed his favourite steed 
with one blow of Durandal. 

" Now, my treasured Durandal, what shall I do with thee ? Thy hilt 
encloses one of the teeth of St. Peter, and a hair from the beard of 
St. Denis. Neither must thou fall into the hands of unbelievers ! " 

He called up all his strength, and struck his sword upon the granite. It 
clave the rock, without denting its blade. Three times he essayed again, 
but with no better success. 

His sio-ht was failing- him. A cold chill seized him. He sank down 
beside a granite peak, stretched upon his invincible sword, that people 
might know well that he died a conqueror. 

Roland had just ceased to breathe when Charlemagne arrived on 
the field. 



You will imagine, my young friends, that the Emperor made the Saracens 
pay dearly for the loss of his knights. It was not until he had utterly 
destroyed the infidel army that Charles would consent to dismount from his 
horse on the plains of Roncesvalles. Alas ! the butchery of Saracens could 
not restore life to Roland or his companions. 

Poor Charlemagne ! he tore his grey hair and long beard, and having 
ordered the bodies of the Count of Mans, Turpin, Oliver, Miton, and Mitaine 
to be placed in coffins of black marble, he had them borne back to France 
with every mark of honour. 



As he approached Aix-la-Chapelle the Emperor saw a long, long line 
of weeping women, all attired in black, coming out to meet him. It was the 
fair Aude, supported by her widowed sister Mita, and followed by a suite 
of three hundred ladies. 

Charlemagne, deeply affected by the sight of such affliction, dismounted, 
and pressed the fair Aude to his heart. 

" My poor child ! " said he, " you are a widow or ever you were a 
bride." 

The fair Aude opened her lips to reply, but she had not the strength 
to speak. 







Tlie death of Aude. 



H Ji 



RONCESVALLES. 



259 



The Emperor felt her sink back in his arms, and, turning to the 
attendants, he asked— 

" Is there a place for her in the coffin by the side of Roland ? " 



A few days later were celebrated with great pomp the obsequies of 
the betrothed of the Count of Mans. At the same hour, draped on a 
hurdle, between two of the executioner's assistants, the disfigured corpse 
of the traitor Ganelon was carried to the charnel. 



" And Croquemitaine, won't you tell us something about it ? " you 
would ask me. 

Croquemitaine does not exist, my dears. 




The last struggle of chivalry. 



Tllii END.